Browns announce Brock Osweiler as starter for Monday’s preseason game against Giants

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 10: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Cleveland Browns escapes outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha #44 of the New Orleans Saints during the first quarter of a preseason game at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND —  The Cleveland Browns announced Wednesday that Brock Osweiler will be the starter for the team’s preseason game against the New York Giants this coming Monday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

Osweiler will be followed by DeShone Kizer, then Cody Kessler.

The Browns beat the Saints in their first preseason game last week.

As for the start of the regular season, Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas believes Osweiler will start the season opener on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh.

“I could be totally wrong,” Thomas said Wednesday. “I might be going out on a limb here, but I think they’re grooming Brock to be the starter in Week 1 based on what I’ve seen.”

Thomas has seen it all — and then some — during 10 seasons with Cleveland. He’s witnessed the Browns bungle enough quarterback decisions that he’s hoping the team gets it right this time.

His preference is for the Browns to show patience and not rush rookie DeShone Kizer, the second-round pick who has had an impressive camp and rallied the team to a win in his exhibition debut. Kizer, a second-round pick from Notre Dame, could very well be ready, but Thomas feels the more prudent approach is to let him learn while watching Osweiler.

“It is a competition, but I would expect Brock to win because of his experience,” he said. “And a rookie quarterback is the hardest position to get ready to play in your first year. So there’s no doubt he (Kizer) could win the competition. I definitely would expect probably Brock to win it just because my personal philosophy is as a quarterback it takes at least two or three years to have a basic level of understanding of NFL defenses and offenses to be able to operate proficiently out there on the field, especially in Week 1.”

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Coach Hue Jackson is giving Osweiler a second straight preseason start when the Browns host the New York Giants on Monday night.

As a team leader and 10-time Pro Bowler, Thomas has opinions that matter greatly to Jackson. He often consults with him on major decisions, and Thomas said that “99 times out of 100 we’re on the same page, because everybody’s out there at practice, everybody’s watching the film, it becomes pretty clear on the direction of the decisions that he’s going to make.”

Osweiler’s rise from a Houston reject to likely starter may be improbable, but Thomas has been impressed with the way the veteran has gone about his business.

He may have been a longshot, but Osweiler, who went 8-6 last season as a starter before the Texans traded him in March, has displayed all the characteristics Thomas wants in a starter.
“He’s got the ‘it’ factor when it comes to being a quarterback,” Thomas said. “He’s got the leadership and the understanding and the communication skills that it takes to be a starting quarterback.

“When he’s in the game and when he’s in the practice, it’s got that feel of an NFL quarterback. He calls the play with enthusiasm and gets everybody to the line of scrimmage quickly, gets everybody organized. He gets the ball, he drops back, he throws the ball on time to where it’s supposed to be thrown.

“It’s not always perfect, but that is like the minimum that you have to have to be a good starting quarterback in the NFL. If you can’t do that, you can’t play in the NFL.”
Kizer’s day will arrive. Thomas just hopes it’s not anytime soon.

While he’s got all the tools: size, smarts, pedigree and a big arm, Kizer lacks experience. And as far as Thomas is concerned, there’s no way to accelerate the time needed to learn.
It’s challenging to be patient, especially for a team that’s coveted a franchise quarterback for two decades. But Thomas feels pushing Kizer along too quickly could backfire.

“Just because DeShone may be good in a few years doesn’t mean you want to throw him in before he’s ready,” he said. “I’ve been on teams where they throw a guy in there because he’s a first-round pick or he’s the guy that the front office says well you’ve got to play this guy and it doesn’t always work out for the player or the team. The team ends up usually losing and the player loses confidence in himself because they’re just not ready.

“So while I think DeShone’s done an amazing job and he’s exceeded most people’s expectations, that doesn’t necessarily just mean he’s ready to be the starter tomorrow.
“There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before I think he’s ready and you don’t want to see a guy lose his confidence and lose his swagger by being played before he’s ready.”