Brock Osweiler will have the first chance to be the Cleveland Browns’ preseason starting quarterback.
Coach Hue Jackson said Monday that Osweiler will start Thursday’s game against the New Orleans Saints. Rookie DeShone Kizer will be third in line, after Cody Kessler.
“A lot goes into our evaluation, but it’s always going to be about efficiently and effectively running the offense,” Jackson said in a statement released by the team. “You want your starter to be able to do that despite any circumstance. Brock hasn’t really gotten any first-team reps, and this will give him that chance. We look forward to seeing what he can do with this opportunity throughout the week and against the Saints.”
Although Osweiler will get the first chance as the starter, Jackson emphasized that any of the team’s quarterbacks could earn the starting spot for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Thursday, Jackson explained the rationale in possibly starting Osweiler.
“One, we have a veteran player that’s played in games, knows how to win, and I need to give him an opportunity to demonstrate that,” Jackson said Thursday. “And No. 2, we still have some young quarterbacks that need to play a lot of football. You know if I stuck one of those other guys out as the starter, they weren’t going to play a lot of football. Because they’re probably going to come out with the other vets. When you sit down and think through it all, you think what’s best for our football team; it’s best for me to trot Brock out there, see if he can go lead this offense and lead the team, and in the process keep getting these young guys more reps of playing football. They just need to play.”
Osweiler said Monday that he isn’t taking any gratification from getting to start a preseason game, and that he needs to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Bottom line, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” he said. “I think this football team knows that. Obviously, Coach Jackson is preaching it every single day. He is telling us that. This is just one step. There is a lot of chemistry to be built. There are a lot of fine details that need to be cleaned up through meetings and more practice sessions.”
Kizer, meanwhile, called himself a competitor and said he will continue to work on his development in his first NFL training camp.
“It’s my ultimate goal to be out there playing,” Kizer said. “We put in a lot of work into what we do. I would love to be the guy who’s stepping out there as the starting guy. But until then, this is still part of the process.”
Kessler said being the second quarterback up Thursday won’t affect his mindset.
“Whether you are going first group, second group or whatever it may be, you have to prepare like a starter,” Kessler said. “That is something I have been doing since high school. Nothing changes no matter what the rotation is or where you go, but it is still another opportunity.”
Jackson said Saturday that although the decision for the preseason opener was about who could score points and help win games, it also would involve “a feeling of who I think can be the guy.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Browns’ starter at quarterback for the first preseason game has started Week 1 of the regular season each year since 2004.
It’s quite a progression for Osweiler, whom the Browns accepted in a trade from the Houston Texans in March solely so they could acquire a second-round pick. He received reps with the starters on Monday for the first time this offseason. In Friday’s scrimmage and Saturday’s practice, Osweiler moved the ball better than the other quarterbacks.