BEREA,Ohio--For some quarterbacks, starting their first NFL game would be a dream come true.
However, for Cody Kessler, he says he's more focused on having a positive start to his NFL career.
“For me, I have not looked at it as a dream come true," Kessler said. "For me, I look at it as I want it to be positive. I want to go out and play my best and do everything I can possible to help this team get a win.
"Obviously, I have worked very hard to get here, but you have to perform now," he said. "That is what you have to do in this league. They want performance. You want to play your best and be at your best on Sunday. Repeating this process throughout the week to help me get there.”
Kessler will make his first start against as formidable a defensive front four as there is in the NFL. Three of the four arguably, could be considered for the NFL's Hall of Fame someday. Defensive end Mario Williams is third on the NFL's all-time sack list, while the other defensive end Cameron Wake is a four-time Pro Bowl performer. Ndamakung Suh is second among defensive tackles in sacks with 43 since 2010.
In the first two games, the Dolphins have knocked the starting quarterback out of the game. Russell Wilson suffered a high ankle sprain in the season opener, but he returned. Last week, the Patriots Jimmy Garoppolo left with a shoulder injury and did not return.
That is particularly not good news for the Browns quarterbacks, who lost their first two quarterbacks in two weeks in Robert Griffin III (shoulder) and Josh McCown (shoulder).
“Their front seven is very physical," Kessler said. "I think a lot of that is due to how well their back four play. Their safeties, their DBs, they get after the ball. They hold up really well in coverage, and their front seven get after the quarterback. That is something for me that I have to re-ID or change the MIKE point or do some things in protection to protect myself is something that I have obviously been studying, too, the last few days.
"It is going to be a very physical game up front, and our offensive line is great," he said. "Those guys work hard and play well. These last few days, they come up and they have been very supportive of me, especially (OL) Joe (Thomas) and (OL John) Greco and guys like that just coming up and being confident in me and talking to me has been a cool thing for me. It is going to be a physical game. It is going to be exciting.”
Kessler knows he has to protect the football for the Browns to have a chance.
“You have to be smart with (the ball)," Kessler said. "You can’t hold on to the football. You have to go through your read, your progression. If it is not there, then you have to throw it away or try to run if it is possible. You do not want to hold onto the football with especially how physical their front seven is. They create havoc in the backfield, and they get after the quarterback. That can lead to sacks, sack-fumbles, different things like that so you just want to be smart with the football and give your team the chance to get to the next down with the ball.”
Dolphins coach Adam Gase said the Dolphins defensive front hasn't been able to get after the quarterback as much they'd have liked to in the first two games.
“I think it’s tough in the fact that if you do get behind and you got a group of those guys coming at you in waves and the speed that they bring, then if you become one dimensional, it really becomes a challenge," Gase said. "Obviously, we haven’t been able to do that really, yet. That’s what one of our things coming into the season was, ‘How do we put our defense in position to where they can pass rush?’
"Hopefully, we can eventually get this going, as far as we’re more balanced overall as a team," he said. "I think that group though, when they get an opportunity to go close out a game, 2-minute drills, or if we’re up by a number of points where they can pass rush and can really make a change in the game in the early fourth quarter, third quarter – that’s what we are looking for.”
Kessler said he believes his preparation this week will help him in his first start. He said he's been in Berea studying the video and preparing until 10 pm the previous two nights.
Kessler said he wants to make the most of his opportunity as the Browns starter.
“Obviously, you always want to get better," he said. "That is the plan you do in life. I just want to continue to work, and a lot of that will be due to my preparation this week. I’m taking it very seriously and have spent countless hours already these past few days in the building and just staying around here.
"I just want to feel comfortable with myself going in to the game and making sure I have no questions and nothing that might catch me off guard. I want to be able to expect everything.”
Joe Thomas said, unfortunately, the Browns have been through this before.
“I guess I have not reflected on where it ranks, but certainly we have been in this situation before where we are down to the third quarterback," Thomas said. "Unfortunately, it has happened more times than not in my career. The guys that have been here for a while, we know how to handle it. I think the guys that are new, it is a quick lesson on being ready because at any moment you could go from zero snaps to being the starter.”
Thomas is confident that Kessler will be ready after a week of practice with the starters.
“I think this week of practice is really important for him to build his confidence," Thomas said. "He is naturally a leader because of his temperament but also his history at the quarterback position at USC. This will be a big week of practice for him just kind of asserting himself on the offense.
"I think you become a leader when you show people you know what you are supposed to do and what everyone else is supposed to do when you are the quarterback," he said. "We have a lot of confidence that Cody is going to know exactly what to do.”
Gordon's Latest Situation won't Affect Current Suspension: A news report surfaced that WR Josh Gordon has been named in a paternity suit, but a league spokesman said that would have no bearing on his current suspension. Gordon is serving a four-game suspension and is eligible to return to the field for the fifth game against the Patriots on oct. 9.
"We are aware of the situation," the Browns said in a statement. "Josh and his attorney are working with the Cuyahoga County Courts to resolve this matter. We have no further comment at this time."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the issuing of the arrest warrant would not affect the terms of Gordon's reinstatement by the NFL.
Erving Thankful: OL Cameron Erving was back in the building an grateful to be feeling better.
"I'm feeling better and am just happy to be back in the building today," Erving said. "It was a crazy experience, but I'm just happy to be back in the building and looking forward to next week."
Erving wouldn't speculate on how long he might be out, rather deferred all questions to Hue Jackson.
Erving was asked if he's nervous to play again after what he went through.
“It is football, man," he said. "For lack of a better term, [stuff] happens. We all know that. It is football, and we are all aware of risks every day, every time we step out on the field. That is it. I’m just happy to be healthy.”
Charlie Practicing: Veteran QB Charlie Whitehurst was on the practice field Wednesday after signing with the Browns Tuesday night. Kessler said he met Whitehurst Tuesday and has been helping him learn the Browns offense as quickly as possible. Whitehurst is expected to be the backup to Kessler on Sunday.
Several Out: After having all 53 players on the roster practicing last week, the Browns started the week missing QB Josh McCown (shoulder), OL Cameron Erving (bruised lung), DL Carl Nassib (hand) and DB Ibraheim Campbell (hamstring). Campbell was on the side working with trainers and McCown was watching practice with owner Jimmy Haslam early in practice.