BEREA, Ohio -- Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler was on quite the rollercoaster ride during his rookie season.
Pressed into service because of injuries to Robert Griffin III and Josh McCown, Kessler suffered a pair of concussions and went winless in his eight starts during the 2016 season, but the second-year signal caller will start training camp at the top of the depth chart.
“He is still the guy who demonstrates knowing the offense the best,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He is the guy that has played the most football for us in that group, and I think he deserves a chance to walk out there first.”
In nine games, including eight starts, during the 2016 season, Kessler completed 128 of his 195 attempts (65.6 percent) for 1,380 yards and six touchdowns against just two interceptions. Additionally, Kessler posted a 92.3 quarterback rating.
And although Kessler will begin camp at the top of the depth chart, he will have to compete with rookie DeShone Kizer, as well as young veterans Brock Osweiler and Kevin Hogan, in order to hold onto the starting job.
“Cody is going to walk out there first; DeShone is going to get reps; Brock is going to get reps; and Kevin is going to get reps, and then, as we go through the process, we will evaluate and see where we are,” Jackson said.
“There will be markers as we go. There will be data that we will look at to make very important decisions as we move forward. It could change. It could not change. That is all going to play out as we go through training camp.”
Last season, Jackson named Griffin his starting quarterback early in training camp, but the former Rookie of the Year suffered an injury in the season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and missed the next 12 weeks.
With just two weeks before the start of the preseason, Jackson wants to name his starting quarterback sooner rather than later, but will do what is best for the team, even if that means having to wait on the decision.
“I would like to have a quarterback hopefully named by then, but I am not going to force it,” Jackson said. “What is important is to feel good about the guy that we stick out there. We are not going to be in a rush.
“Obviously, we want guys that play in games and play together and play as a unit and do all of those things. If it happens before then, great. If it does not, that is okay, too, but by the time that we get ready to play in the regular season, we will have the right guy out there playing.”