CLEVELAND -- Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer started the preseason taking snaps with the third-team offense, and in just three preseason games, he earned the opportunity to start in the regular season when the Cleveland Browns take on the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, September 10.
And while doubts fly across sports talk radio and much debate takes place about his being the best option for the Browns, Kizer is focused on embracing the opportunity to start and letting his play on the field do the talking.
“This is awesome,” Kizer said before Monday’s practice. “Obviously, it was an awesome opportunity to start in the preseason game, but now, to know that I will be the guy heading into the season, that will help lead this team to a couple of wins is obviously a really cool experience.”
The Future is Now: DeShone Kizer set to start for Cleveland Browns
When naming Kizer the starter in a conference call with the Cleveland media Sunday, Browns coach Hue Jackson was quick to say that this was not a week-by-week decision and that his rookie signal-caller earned the right to be the long-term option.
Having that kind of belief and support has instilled even more confidence in Kizer as the Browns prepare for the conclusion of the preseason against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Thursday night.
“When you have a coach who truly believes in you -- obviously, he has put a lot of time and effort into my development -- to have him by my side is an awesome experience at the quarterback position,” Kizer said. “We know in this sport, the quarterback-coach relationship can go a long ways.
“You see a lot of the successful teams have great quarterback and head coach relationships. For us to start off the way we have, obviously, if we can go out there and have a little success and we continue to grow in that sense, hopefully, this can be something that can last for 10-15 years.”
Through the first three games of the preseason, Kizer completed 25 of his 49 attempts for 351 yards and one touchdown against two interceptions. Despite his 51.0 completion percentage, Kizer averaged 7.2 yards per attempt, the best of all Browns quarterbacks this preseason.
In the Browns’ 13-9 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium Saturday night, Kizer completed just six of his 18 throws with an interception, but gained 93 yards through the air.
“The goal of this whole process was to be gradual, to take rookie camp and lead that into OTAs, into veteran camp and into training camp,” Kizer said. “I think I have been right on path. Obviously, I stand here in front of you guys as the starting quarterback today, so apparently, that was the right way to go about things.
“Throughout that competition, it was a big focus of mine to focus in on winning within and competing with myself. If you go out there looking at everybody else’s reps, it only allows for you to take the focus off of yourself and your own development.
“Not much changes. We have an awesome quarterback room. Those guys have been supporting me in this past week, starting in the Tampa game, and I plan on them continuing to support me and help me out in the preparation for Pittsburgh.”