Berea, Ohio — DeShone Kizer has strong-armed his way into a starting job.
The rookie quarterback will start Cleveland’s exhibition at Tampa Bay on Saturday, and unless he flops or gets hurt, Kizer will start the Browns’ Sept. 10 season opener against the Steelers.
Coach Hue Jackson elected to go with Kizer, a second-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, over veterans Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler.
Kizer has been the most consistent of the three during training camp and led the Browns to three touchdowns during his two exhibition appearances.
Before practice Wednesday, Kizer said he’s determined to make the most of the opportunity.
“This is awesome,” he said. “Obviously another step in this process that we’ve been talking about for the last couple months now. I obviously know there’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with starting the game as far as preparation goes throughout the league, as far as the responsibilities that happen off the field in representing this team the right way.”
Jackson, who went 1-15 in his first season with Cleveland, said he informed the QBs Kizer would start this week in what is considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season.
“I don’t ever want to put something on someone too soon if they’re not ready,” Jackson said. “But he’s demonstrated that he’s ready, so let’s give him a chance to see if he can do it.”
Unless he stumbles against the Buccaneers, Kizer will be the 27th different quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999 — and fourth Week 1 starter in the past four years.
Kizer has completed 19 of 31 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown in two exhibition games. He’s been sacked five times but also had eight rushes for 47 yards and a touchdown.
Osweiler had an obvious edge because of his experience, but his inability to move the ball on Monday against the Giants was costly. He feels Jackson gave him “a fair shot” to win the job, but that didn’t ease his disappointment.
“Every single player that’s here today at this practice facility would tell you their aspirations are to be a starter and to help their team win football games,” he said.
Ben Roethlisberger has a request for Le’Veon Bell: hit me up.
The Pittsburgh quarterback expects to make his only preseason appearance on Saturday night when the Steelers host Indianapolis, but his bigger concern is when Bell (Michigan State) is ready to report.
The All-Pro running back has yet to sign his franchise tender, though he hinted on Twitter late Tuesday night that he would arrive on Sept. 1, the day after Pittsburgh plays its preseason finale against Carolina.
“I mean I’d love to hear back from him, just a text, ‘Hey how you doing,’” Roethlisberger said.
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