CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Ideally Browns head coach Hue Jackson would like to have had his starting quarterback already named for the season, but he’ll have to settle for plan B.
Jackson could name his Week 1 starter this week before the Browns travel to Tampa Bay for the customary “dress rehearsal,” which is the third preseason game, and who that will be could be decided Monday night when the Browns host the New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Veteran Brock Osweiler has gone from an afterthought on a press release in March to potential starter against the Steelers Sept. 10 thanks in part to a lousy training camp from Cody Kessler who was the No. 1 QB from April-Aug. 7.
Osweiler can hang onto the job with an improved effort against New York.
In the 20-14 win over the Saints Osweiler presided over 3 consecutive 3-and-outs before finally netting a first down on his fourth offensive series. He completed 6 of 14 passes for just 42 yards and a 50.3 rating.
Rookie DeShone Kizer was elevated to the No. 2 role behind Osweiler, leapfrogging Kessler, following a strong debut that saw him account for a pair of fourth quarter touchdown drives – including the game-winner which came on a 45-yard TD pass. After throwing for 184 yards against the Saints’ soon-to-be castoffs and registering a 114.1 rating by completing 11 of 18 passes, Jackson wants to see what the kid is made of going up against stiffer competition in the first half.
Don’t be stunned if Osweiler gets the quick hook after 2 or 3 offensive series so Kizer can take the field.
While Jackson is being cautious in not rushing Kizer and making sure he is put in the best position to succeed when or if he does eventually start this year, if Kizer replicates what he did on Aug. 10, Jackson might have some serious thinking to do for this Saturday night. And maybe the opener.
What to Watch For – Defensive end Joe Schobert had an impressive performance last week against New Orleans and he looks to follow that up with another strong outing to continue to get the attention of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Schobert is challenging Tank Carder for the MIKE linebacker job.
Williams’ unit is coming off an impressive – but not perfect – debut that saw them total 5 sacks and create a pair of turnovers but they did not face the Saints’ franchise QB in Drew Brees. Monday night Eli Manning will start for the Giants after also sitting out their preseason opener. Manning hopes to establish chemistry with free agent Brandon Marshall as well as his top tight end Evan Engram. Manning has plenty of targets to throw to this season in addition to Marshall and Engram. Odell Beckham Jr., who was Manning’s go-to guy last season, Shane Vereen and Sterling Shepard, who is in his second season.
With defensive tackle Danny Shelton out with a knee injury, Jamie Meder, who saved the Browns from an 0-16 season last Christmas eve with a blocked field goal, came on late last season and is expected to get a look along with Trevon Coley, who has been impressive during camp.
The injury to left guard Joel Bitonio combined with left tackle Joe Thomas getting the night off will force Jackson to shuffle the offensive line a bit. Veteran John Greco, who is thought to be on the bubble because of his $3 million salary, will step in for Bitonio. Cameron Erving, who struggled against the Saints and was penalized on consecutive plays for a false start and a hold, is also out due to a calf injury meaning that rookie Rod Johnson starts at left tackle in his place.
Monday Night Lights:Monday night’s game marks the first preseason Monday Night Football game in Cleveland since 1992. The Browns last played on Monday night in the preseason in 2014 at Washington.
The Last Time – Preseason: Aug. 18, 2008 Giants 37, Browns 34; Regular Season: Nov. 27, 2016 Giants 27, Browns 13
Series History – Preseason: Giants lead 9-7; regular season: Browns lead 26-21-2
Last Week – Browns beat the Saints 20-14
Projected Starters – OFFENSE: WR Corey Coleman, LT Rod Johnson, LG John Greco, C JC Tretter, RG Kevin Zeitler, RT Shon Coleman, TE Randall Telfer, WR Kenny Britt, QB Brock Osweiler, RB Duke Johnson Jr., FB Danny Vitale.
DEFENSE: DE Myles Garrett, DT Desmond Bryant, DT Jamie Meder, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, WILL Christian Kirksey, MIKE Tank Carder, SAM Jamie Collins, CB Joe Haden, CB Jamar Taylor, S Ibraheim Campbell, S Derrick Kindred.
Injury Report – DB Ibraheim Campbell (concussion), DB Marcus Burley (face laceration), RB Isaiah Crowell (groin), DB Howard Wilson (knee), DB Ed Reynolds II (knee), DL Nate Orchard (groin), DL Danny Shelton (knee), DL Cam Johnson (knee), Gabe Ikard (concussion), OL Cameron Erving (calf), OL Joel Bitonio (knee), DL Caleb Brantley (shoulder).
LT Joe Thomas (inactive/not injury related)
Broadcast Information – Radio: 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX, 850 AM and the University Hospitals Cleveland Browns radio network; TV: ESPN, WKYC Ch. 3 TV
Kickoff – 8:00 p.m. – FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio