BEREA, Ohio -- Not very often does an athlete of any sport from the University of Notre Dame give credit to someone from the University of Southern California, but try as he must to avoid to, Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer did exactly that at training camp.
Kizer spent a month in California working with renowned quarterbacks coach Tom House, and fellow Browns signal-caller Cody Kessler was at his side doing the same thing. When the two were not working out, they were going over the Browns’ playbook to ready themselves for training camp, which got underway in Berea last Thursday.
“As much as I hate to say a USC guy is helping me, it’s been…and our relationship has developed very quickly,” Kizer said with a wry smile. “He’s a guy that’s very similar to me in the way that he thinks and the way he goes about the game, and we’ve been able to help each other out a lot, not only Cody, but Brock and Kevin.”
Of the four quarterbacks in training camp with the Browns, fifth-year veteran Brock Osweiler is the most tenured, as Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler each have one season on their resumes, while the next snap Kizer takes in a regular-season game will be his first.
“Our quarterback room is one that’s very open to conversation, and it’s something that’s helped me out quite a bit,” Kizer said. “I know there’s a lot of guys who tell horror stories of the competitiveness that happens within the quarterback room that doesn’t allow them to develop each other into the guy that’s going to step out there, and that’s one that I’m not experiencing now.”
Although Kizer and Kessler are competing for the starting quarterback job, the second-year professional did what he could to get the rookie signal-caller up to speed while they were out in California.
“We were still talking in the same language I was talking with here,” Kizer said. “A lot of guys when they go train, they remove themselves completely from their playbook and focus in on fundamentals, but being with a quarterback who's also in my room, we were able to continue to talk in that language, which was able to help me out a lot.
“As many reps as you can get, so I like to pretend as if I'm in the huddle. If this is a huddle right now, I want to be able to communicate precisely to all you guys, and that's something that I continue to try to do.”
Because of that work Kizer did with Kessler in California, he felt much more comfortable heading into his first professional training camp, and has shown flashes of success, both by passing and running the ball downfield.
“The more time I have with it, the more I'll be able to understand it,” Kizer said. “Cody's a guy who started eight games last year, and the way that he commands the huddle and is able to go up there and communicate the right way and get the guys into the right play consistently is something I look forward to doing. I just obviously want to speed that up and get to that understanding as fast as I possibly can, so that time spent in this offseason was something that led to that a little more.”
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