BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – As the Cleveland Browns prepare to kick off training camp Thursday, Hue Jackson’s quarterback depth chart remains unchanged.
Cody Kessler will open training camp as Jackson’s No. 1 QB while veteran Brock Osweiler will get a legitimate chance to compete for the starting job the coach said Wednesday.
“This is a competition,” Jackson said. “Somebody has to walk out there first. We have made a decision that it will be Cody and we will kind of go from there.”
Ideally Jackson would like to have a starting QB set before the preseason opener Aug. 10 when they host the Saints.
“I would like to have a quarterback hopefully named by then, but I am not going to force it,” Jackson said. “What is important is to feel good about the guy that we stick out there. We are not going to be in a rush. Obviously, we want guys that play in games and play together and play as a unit and do all of those things.
“If it happens before then, great. If it does not, that is OK, too, but by the time that we get ready to play in the regular season, we will have the right guy out there playing.”
Kessler appeared in 9 games as a rookie with 8 starts that saw him complete 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,380 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
Osweiler, who is set to make $16 million this season, was acquired from Houston along with a 2018 second round draft pick in March but the team seems hardly enthused about playing him despite his hefty price-tag.
“Yes he does,” Jackson said of Osweiler’s chances of winning the starting job despite not receiving a single first-team rep during the offseason. “He is here competing. Brock did a good job in OTAs and our offseason program. He is going to walk out there and compete just like the other guys.”
Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown said that Osweiler’s salary will not be a determining factor as to who the starter will be or even if he makes the team.
“We want to evaluate guys based on their performance,” Brown said. “No team in the salary cap era can just be blind to contracts so I am not saying it facetiously, but in all seriousness, when we acquired Brock, we understood he was going to have a chance to come in and establish himself as the starter. That does not mean he had to be the starter for him to be on our roster. It is that simple.”
Rookie DeShone Kizer, selected 52nd overall in April, will also get an opportunity to win the job.
The question with Kizer isn’t can he be ready by Sept. 11, but when will he be ready to start and how will Jackson know that time has come?
“I think that there are a lot of things that you take into account,” Jackson said. “There is knowledge that gives you a little direction. There is experience. I have been fortunate to in this division bring a couple of guys along who were rookies and know how they play and know how your team functions around them.
“We will use anything and everything that we have to make the best decision when that time comes.”