CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Cody Kessler has played through chest and rib injuries, but a concussion in the first half of Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium was not something he was going to be able to shake off.
Kessler was removed from play by referee Ed Hochuli, taken to the locker room for an independent evaluation and was ruled out with the head injury.
“It’s disappointing,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “(It’s a) tough sport. He’s trying to make plays and battling as hard as he can, and these hits -- these quarterbacks only have so many of these hits in their body, you know? Pretty soon, guys don’t get up all the time, and that’s what’s been happening. It’s unfortunate. It’s just been happening way too much, so on we go.”
The Browns took a 10-7 lead over the Bengals when Isaiah Crowell’s one-yard touchdown run with 6:20 to play in the first half punctuated a nine-play, 70-yard drive.
On the first play of the drive, backup quarterback Kevin Hogan ran for a 15-yard gain, and then, mirrored that with another 15-yard burst around right end just two plays later.
After center Cameron Erving’s holding penalty negated a 10-yard run from Crowell, Kessler delivered a 21-yard pass to fullback Malcolm Johnson, and Crowell followed that up with a 12-yard run down to Cincinnati’s 13-yard line.
Facing a second-and-13 from Cincinnati’s 16-yard line, Kessler stood in the pocket and shoveled a pass to tight end Gary Barnidge. Barnidge made a one-handed catch for an 11-yard gain, but Kessler was hit twice on the play and got sent off the field and did not return. Following the injury, fellow rookie Kevin Hogan took over the quarterbacking duties.
The third quarterback to start for the Browns in 2016, Kessler went 9 for 11 with 82 yards passing against the Bengals. In his place, Hogan completed 12 of his 24 throws for 100 yards with two interceptions.
Already in the game on multiple occasions to run out of the shotgun formation, Hogan accounted for a team-best 104 yards and a 28-yard touchdown on just seven carries against the Bengals. Hogan’s 104 rushing yards were the second-most in a single game by a quarterback in Browns history.
“He was playing good, and like I said, part of this thing is availability,” Jackson said of Kessler. “You’ve got to be out there. You have to find a way to stay out there, and that’s tough because he’s trying his tail off, and I think we all know that. You’re taking these hits at risk of not being out there.
“I know what he’s doing. He made a hell of a play on that particular play to Barnidge, and then ‘bam!’ It’s unfortunate, but I know our guys are trying hard. It’s not from a lack of effort. It’s not from a lack of trying. The luck’s just not swinging our way. We’re not getting those breaks right now.”