CLEVELAND -- After a full offseason program as the No. 1 quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, second-year signal-caller Cody Kessler was demoted after just one week of training camp, and following early preseason struggles, he found himself third on the depth chart.
Through all of Kessler’s struggles, Browns coach Hue Jackson maintained that there would be a time when he would move into the backup role, and that time has come as Kevin Hogan heals up from the bruised ribs he suffered in practice earlier this week.
“As a competitor, you want to be out there, but yeah, I have recognized my role and I have talked to Coach Jackson a couple times throughout the season,” Kessler said. “I really want this organization, this team, as we all do, to win games and to really get over that hump and continue to grow and be a competitive team.”
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. However, despite having a 92.3 quarterback rating, Kessler endured 21 sacks for 140 lost yards and suffered a pair of concussions in a month's time.
During the 2017 preseason, Kessler completed 29 of his 46 attempts for 289 yards and one touchdown, but took six sacks for 46 lost yards and lost his only fumble.
“Different role being inactive or backing up instead of being the starter, but at the same time, you have to get those reps,” Kessler said. “You have to get mental reps.
“You have to go out there and after practice is over, I will stay and go through the script and the plays that we worked on that day and just try to continue to prepare like a starter, whether you are or not. Coach Jackson has been great. He has been helping me out as well and helping me develop.”
By taking those mental repetitions during practice and in the meeting rooms, Kessler has done what he could in order to help rookie starter DeShone Kizer and Hogan prepare for upcoming games, and that is exactly what he is doing now in the backup role heading into Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“Everyone is a competitor,” Kessler said. “As a competitor, you want to be out there doing everything you can to help your team win, and for me, my role doing that has been in practice. Whether it is the look team, helping the defense out, getting extra reps with some of the other receivers and doing everything I can, Monday through Saturday, pretty much to help out has really been my role right now.
“Obviously, I am a competitor and you always want to be out there, but I am going to cheer my guys on no matter what. Whether I am active, inactive, starting, third string, backing up or wherever I am, I am going to continue to support the guy that is in there and the rest of the team and keep working.”
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