BEREA,Ohio--Cody Kessler is just starting his second NFL season, but he's been around long enough to not take anything for granted.
Kessler was asked if he thinks he's the Browns starting quarterback as it stands right now.
“That is not my decision," Kessler said on the second day of OTAs in Berea. "What is up to me is how hard I compete and prepare in obviously this offseason, coming back and ready to go and getting back with these guys and working out with them. My mindset right now is just go out there and compete and control what I can control, and that is how I work out and watch film and every little detail that there is to playing quarterback in this league.
"That is something for me that is really important to me and being very competitive, and at the same time, learning from the other guys in the quarterback room and obviously, (quarterbacks) Coach (David) Lee and Coach (Hue) Jackson.”
Currently, Kessler, Kevin Hogan and Brock Osweiler are the only quarterbacks on the roster.
One of the biggest knocks on Kessler in his rookie season was being able to throw the ball down field. He said he's focused on that in the off-season.
“Absolutely," he said. "I definitely spent countless hours in the weight room and out on the field and really,really emphasized pushing the ball down field and different things with my mechanics. Obviously, it has to transition when the bullets start flying, but it’s helped me out a ton and that’s something I really worked on and had a big emphasis on.
"I continue to work on the short and intermediate game and being comfortable in the pocket moving around, as well as stepping into the throw and getting my back foot under me so you can push the ball down the field more and getting everything you have into the throw, instead of falling off," he said. "(Spent) countless hours of drills and different mechanical stuff I spent in in this off-season that I felt has helped me improve in that area.”
Kessler is confident he will be much improved in his second season.
“Watching myself (on tape) and other things, being the first year, there were things I was a little hesitant on," he said. "Normally, you want to pull the trigger a little faster and get rid of the ball a little faster, but being the first year I was a little hesitant on it. In no way is that an excuse, but that’s something I saw and said ‘That’s O.K. you got that out of your system. You learned last year what you can do, can’t do and what you have to work on.’ I just watched myself and worked on that this off season and just trusting the guys, getting the ball out on time, helping the offensive line out , eliminating some of those sack opportunities.
"Instead of taking three or four hitches, getting rid of the ball on the first or second hitch," he said. "Find your check down or run and throw the ball away, instead of holding on to the football and causing problems for yourself and your team that’s something that I’m really hard on myself and being critical in different situations and situational football. Watching film of last year there were plenty of notes and goals I wrote down on things I wanted to work on.”
Kessler knows the Browns are likely going to draft a quarterback high in this year's draft but he wants to prove that he can be the long-term answer if he gets the opportunity.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "That's the mindset that you want to take. That's something that having so much criticism on myself and watching that is things that I didn't do well last year and things that I did well, things that I want to improve, is watching other quarterbacks in the league, saying 'ok, I can do that, let me take this from this guy', or little things here and there and maybe not do it as well as them or maybe everyone's a little different obviously and everyone has a different playing style and different game style.
"But you take bits and pieces and you put into your own game and just studying guys on film," he said. "I watched hours of Drew Brees and Tom Brady and (Aaron) Rodgers, just different guys that have played in the league for a long time and done a great job and picking stuff from them here and there, whether it's pre-snap or things they do at the line of scrimmage or just little hand motions, different cadences, the way they throw the ball. But, yeah, that's my goal. That's the mindset I've taken. I want to be successful in this league. I want to play for a long time, and that's the mindset you have to take each day, and that's what drives you and motivates you."