CLEVELAND -- After the third preseason game, the Cleveland Browns decided rookie DeShone Kizer would be the starting quarterback for the 2017 regular-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium.
And when that decision was made, then, the question became, “Who would be Kizer’s backup against the Steelers?” and that was answered Friday when coach Hue Jackson named second-year player Kevin Hogan the backup quarterback for the opener.
“He just kept making plays,” Jackson said. “He just kept making plays. I think we all saw that. He did some things really well. The guy can move around and complete balls and make plays with the ball.
“The one thing for me, as a head coach, I think you reward people who play really, really well and do the things that you need done, not that I am saying that Cody doesn’t. Kevin did and he showed that, so I am giving him the first crack at it.”
On in relief of Cody Kessler in the second half against the Chicago Bears in the preseason finale, Hogan completed 13 of his 17 throws for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
During the preseason, Hogan completed 21 of his 32 attempts for 269 yards with a team-best three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hogan added 18 yards on nine carries.
“It feels good just that Coach has confidence in me to go out there and make some plays,” Hogan said. “I feel like I have done a good job in camp with preparation and learning the offense and the ins and outs of what Coach is looking for from the quarterback.
“I am going to do my best to help DeShone in whatever way he needs to be ready to go on Sunday, and I am going to do the same. I am going to prepare as if I am the starter so that I am ready whenever.”
Hogan passed former Browns starter Cody Kessler for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart, but when announcing the decision, Jackson left open the possibility for Kessler to make a move forward with positive practice performances.
“He is not at the bottom,” Jackson said of Kessler “I know you feel that way. He is not at the bottom. I don’t want to paint that kind of picture for him. He is not at the bottom. He is one of the backup quarterbacks on this football team.
“Cody is going to have a chance this year to also be the backup at some point. I want to make sure I put that out there.”
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.
“We tell them exactly why we are doing what we are doing and where we are, and we have done that from Day 1 up through now, and that is not going to change,” Jackson said. “Cody is very confident. I hope none of our backup quarterbacks have to play this year, but if they do, they will go in and they will play well.”
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