CLEVELAND -- This time around, when quarterback DeShone Kizer leads the Cleveland Browns’ offense onto the field, it will count for real.
The Browns get the 2017 regular season going on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium against their chief AFC North Division rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Kizer is “excited” to get the 16-game schedule underway.
"It has been a long four months,” Kizer said Wednesday. “I haven’t played competitive football with a game on the line and a record on the line in a long time. I’m looking forward to going out there and executing this gameplan that we have been putting together the last couple of weeks.”
The Future is Now: DeShone Kizer set to start for Cleveland Browns
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 completing just 51 percent of his passes, 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 last Saturday night, Kizer completed just six of his 18 throws with an interception, but gained 93 yards and converted multiple first downs through the air.
But despite successes in the preseason, Kizer knows things will be quite different when the Steelers and Browns line up on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage.
“They have studs all over the place from D-line to DBs to great linebackers,” Kizer said. “It is definitely going to be a challenge for us, but I think, once again, this gameplan that we have had a couple of weeks to prepare for, if we can go out and execute it, we will definitely find some success.
“I think I got a little bit of a taste of it playing against Tampa Bay with some of their starters out there, but everything goes to a whole other level. My preparation has to go to another level, and my mentality has to go to another level, but hopefully, I can just match that and do what I have been doing all preseason and try to find some success.”
Although Kizer is aware of how “talented” the Steelers are, that will not prevent him from airing the ball out down the field should an opportunity present itself.
“Why resist?” Kizer said. “If the play is there, we are going to let it rip. Yeah, there is definitely going to be an opportunity to move the ball in check-downs. That is any team out there. You have to understand where your outlet is at all times.
“Take the big plays when they are given to you, but when they are not given to you, understand that 5-6 yards is a great play, especially with the running backs that we have that can catch the ball and make plays.”