Cody Kessler to start Sunday

Rookie quarterback Cody Kessler is expected to be the 26th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999 this week against Miami

BEREA, Ohio--Get ready Cody.

Rookie quarterback Cody Kessler will be the 26th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999 in place of Josh McCown, who suffered an injury to his left shoulder. Hue Jackson confirmed that McCown will miss this week's game with Miami and called him "week-to-week."

“Josh is going to be out this week, but Josh will be week to week from there on," Jackson said. "It is unfortunate. It is something I told our team, ‘We have to do everything we can to protect our quarterback.’ It is tough. This is a tough sport. When those guys get hit, it is hard, but he is one of the toughest human beings I’ve seen play in a long time. He is always out there battling. He showed tremendous grit yesterday hanging in there and playing the way he did. There are some throws I know he wishes he had back, but at the same time, I think he played as well and as hard as he could.”

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Jackson said he didn't think that an MRI showed any broken bones in McCown's shoulder area.

“It is a shoulder/clavicle issue right now that he is working through," Jackson said. "That is what we are going to call it. That is what we are going to term it.”

“I want to get the right words for you guys. I know it is in the shoulder/clavicle area. I don’t know that it is totally broken. I don’t think that, but I know that there is something that is not right. I think it is more of a deep sprain at this time than anything, but I don’t think there is anything totally broken.”

Although Jackson didn't outright declare Kessler the starter, he did sound as if that will be the case.

“There is a good chance Cody will start this week," he said. "There is no question about that. I would like to go through the week and practice and really start a gameplan. We haven’t even gotten to the gameplan part of that yet. This is exactly where we are. I know this much: we will do anything and everything we need to do on offense to fill a team and a unit that can go out there and play.”

 Jackson said the Browns will scour the waiver wire and look to bring in a veteran quarterback. Fellow rookie quarterback Kevin Hogan is currently on the practice squad and he could be promoted this week.

If Kessler starts, he will be the 26th different starting quarterback for the Browns since the team returned to the NFL in 1999 and third this season. It will also mark the ninth time the Browns will have started at least three different quarterbacks in a season.

It will be most reminiscent to the 2010 season when Colt McCoy was drafted in the third round and then team president Mike Holmgren said the plan was to let him watch and learn from veterans Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace. Delhomme was injured in the season opener and Wallace was injured soon after and McCoy  was forced to play early in the season. 

Kessler was the Browns third, third-round draft choice in the 2016 NFL Draft (93rd overall) from USC. Draft pundits said Kessler was drafted too high by the Browns, but Hue Jackson said "trust me on this one" after the selection. Kessler started 41 career games at USC, completing 851-of-1,261 attempts for 10,339 yards with 88 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions. He ranks third in school history for career touchdowns and completions and is fourth in passing yards.

When reminded of his draft day statement, Jackson responded:

"Here we go," Jackson said. "Trust me, here we go. We'll see what that statement is all about."

Jackson said he's seen Kessler grow in practice, but said it all comes down to how he actually plays in a real game. 

"I've seen him do some good things," Jackson said. "I've seen him do some things he needs to improve at. I've seen him have a string of completions of up to 10, six, eight, but I haven't seen him live. I don't think you learn a lot about players until you see them play in real games. We'll find out a lot about him this weekend."

Jackson was asked if there was any fear of hurting his growth by throwing him in before he's ready, but Jackson said the Browns really have no choice.

“I don’t know if it could stunt his growth," Jackson said smiling. "It is either going to improve it or do something to it, right? No, I understand what you are saying, but something is going to come from it, something good or something bad. One or the other, we are going to figure it out this weekend, though.”

 Kessler had a less than stellar preseason, although his statistical line wasn't too bad. Kessler was 19-of-28 for 92 yards (67.9 pct.) with one touchdown and no interceptions for a rating of 84.2. However, Kessler appeared to hang on to the ball too long and was sacked seven times. He was sacked for a safety and ran out of the back of the end zone for another safety.

The silver lining in this is the Browns are trying to evaluate their quarterback position and even though it's premature, they will be able to see what Kessler can do.

“I would not want it to be this way, but it is going to be good to get out and see him play," Jackson said. "At the same time, it has been two weeks and two different quarterbacks going down. Like I said, pretty soon maybe I’ll be playing. I say that in fun, but at the same time, you don’t want it to be this way, but that is the nature of this sport. Sometimes, things just do not go your way. We have to fight like heck to get it back our way. We are going to get a chance to see Cody play. We wish it was not like this, but this is how it is.”

Extra Points

Down at least 3 Starters: After having all 53 players on the roster healthy last week, the Browns suffered some injuries that will cause them to miss at least three starters this week. Besides QB Josh McCown, DE Carl Nassib suffered a broken hand and will have surgery this week. Jackson said he won't play this week, but said there is a chance he could play with a cast in following weeks. OL Cameron Erving suffered a pulmonary contusion (bruised lung) and will be week-to-week. DB Ibraheim Campbell suffered a hamstring injury, while TE Randall Telfer suffered a neck injury, but Jackson said he was 'fine'.

"(John) Greco will go over to center and (Alvin) Bailey will move in at guard," Jackson said. 

Without another center on the roster, Jackson said the Browns will look to bring in another center.

"We're up against the wall a little bit, but I know our executive staff and they're working extremely hard to solve this. Again, though we don't play again until Sunday."


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