Rookie QB DeShone Kizer a ‘Better Bet’ to Win the Starting Job for the Browns

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Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer may be a “better bet” to win the starting QB job than second-year player Cody Kessler according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

Kessler entered training camp as the nominal No.1 quarterback for the Browns over both the rookie and free agent bust Brock Osweiler but that designation was due mainly to Kessler’s familiarity with the offense, having played in head coach Hue Jackson’s system in 2016. But Cleveland beat reporters have been banging the drum for Kizer ever since minicamp, reporting how impressive the rookie had looked and how he had significantly narrowed the gap between him and Kessler.

It is a far cry from the beating Kizer’s stock took leading up to the draft this May. Long believed to have perhaps the best raw talent of the entire QB draft class, there were whispers about arrogance and immaturity once Kizer declared for the draft after his junior year at Notre Dame with even ND head coach Brian Kelly saying that he was not ready for the NFL. Kizer slid from a surefire first-round pick all the way until the middle of the second round, when the Browns selected him at No.52. Since then Kizer has made noticeable strides in both accuracy and touch while flashing improved mechanics and earning the praise of the coaching staff.

Ulrich stresses that the quarterback competition in Cleveland remains wide open with Kessler, Kizer, and even Osweiler viewed as “legitimate candidates”. With a vastly improved offensive line and a solid if unspectacular group of offensive skill players entering the 2017 season, the Browns could be a pleasant surprise-if they get the QB situation sorted out.

Browns First Overall Pick Myles Garrett Healthy and Ready for Camp

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Rookie defensive end and No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft Myles Garrett has recovered from a foot sprain and will be on the field Thursday when Cleveland opens camp following a miserable 1-15 season, the Associated Press reports.

Garrett suffered a left lateral foot sprain while rushing quarterback Brock Osweiler during minicamp in June. He was placed in a walking boot and there was some concern that he might be sidelined for an extensive period.

However, coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday that Garrett is “totally healthy” and will be on the field for the team’s first workout. Garrett will be monitored during practices and it’s possible he could be kept out of some drills.

“We will definitely monitor him but I think he’s totally healthy, maybe hasn’t done all the conditioning that you like to see right before training camp,” Jackson said. “But I think he’s up to speed and ready to go. And he’s looking forward to it.”

Former Browns WR Andrew Hawkins Gives Praise to Cleveland Following His Announced Retirement

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One-time Browns wide out Andrew Hawkins walked away from football Tuesday, deciding to retire after he signed a one-year contract with the New England Patriots in May.

Hawkins played three seasons with the Browns, last season catching 33 passes for 324 yards and three scores. In his time in Cleveland he played in 39 games with 29 starts, and caught 123 passes for 1424 yards and five touchdowns.

He had nothing but positive things to say today about his time in Cleveland, paying his respects to the city and his former teammates.

Browns Agree to Terms with First Round Pick Safety Jabrill Peppers

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The Browns have all their draft picks ready for camp, as first-round pick safety Jabrill Peppers has agreed to terms on his rookie deal with a signing coming soon, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports via Edward Lewis of NFL.com.

Peppers was the last of the Browns’ draft picks, which included other first-rounders DE Myles Garrett and TE David Njoku, to ink a deal.

The No. 25 overall pick was drafted by Cleveland for his ability to play safety, but coach Hue Jackson said in the spring that the former Michigan standout will see some time on offense as well.

“He’s football player, a very dynamic player,” Jackson said. “Obviously, he’s going to play defense for us, but we’ll find a role for him over there on offense. No question.”

First Overall Pick Myles Garrett Injuries Foot in Practice

No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett tumbled to the ground after a would-be sack of Brock Osweiler in a two-minute drill and immediately clutched his left foot. In obvious pain, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Garrett remained down a few moments before coach Hue Jackson and a trainer pulled him up.

He limped to the sidelines, where he took of his left shoe and rubbed the bottom of the foot before the medical staff examined it. Within a few minutes, he was up walking around on the sidelines, but still with an obvious limp.

Garrett, who went down apparently without contact after blowing in from the right side, knelt for most of the rest of practice, and at least one player came over and patted him on the head. When the lightning sirens screeched, he slowly limped into the fieldhouse for the final three plays of practice. Afterwards, he hobbled slowly to the locker room, trying hard to disguise the limp.

After practice, coach Hue Jackson confirmed it was likely the foot.

“Obviously I’ll know more once we get inside, but I think it’s his foot, so we’ll see,” he said. “I don’t know how it happened. Those things happen. Hopefully everything’s OK, and we’ll see once I get a chance to go inside.”

Browns Lock Up LB Christian Kirksey to Four-Year Deal Worth $38 Million

Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey finally became a full-time starter last season and now he’s being paid like it, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Kirksey, the Browns third-round pick in 2014 out of Iowa, signed a four-year deal with the Browns worth $38 million including $20 million guaranteed, a league source said. He was heading into the final year of his rookie contract.

“First and foremost I want to thank the Haslams for this opportunity and the organization for believing in me,” Kirksey said in a release. “Hue Jackson has been telling me from day one that I have a chance to be a great player in this league and for them to offer me this contract speaks volumes.

“I am glad to be here and to be a Brown for a long time. This is my home. This is where I want to be. I love my teammates and we are ready to get this thing rolling. I am excited for the future.”

Kirksey’s signing comes on the heels of extensions for other key veterans. They signed linebacker Jamie Collins to a four-year, $50 million contract in January, including $26 million guaranteed.

Browns New QB Brock Osweiler Says He Expects to Start in Opener in September

Brock Osweiler has gone from afterthought in an NBA-style salary-dump trade to a man aiming to beat out Cody Kessler for the Browns starting job, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

“Absolutely,” he said after OTAs Wednesday when asked if he expects to be the man against the Steelers Sept. 10. “My expectation is always to start. But once again, that’s not my decision to make. If I came out here and told you guys I wanted to be the backup, I’m in the wrong business.

“Absolutely I want to play and I want to help this football team win games, but I know there’s a lot of work that goes into that and ultimately I need to earn that on the practice field and I have a lot of work ahead of me to do that.”

Osweiler, acquired in a trade with the Texans that also netted the Browns a 2018 second-round pick, believes that Kessler being named the man to beat by Hue Jackson is the correct approach despite the fact he’s won 13 games and Kessler hasn’t won any.

“I think that’s great,” he said. I think Cody has certainly earned that right. He played in a lot of football games last year. I think he did a tremendous job for this football team. I’m the new guy on the block. I need to earn my stripes here, if you will, so Cody has certainly earned that right, but I can promise you I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can every day because nobody plays this game to be a backup or to lose football games. You play to start and help your football team ultimately win.”

Despite his disappointing season in Houston last season, where he clashed with coach Bill O’Brien and was ultimately benched, Osweiler wholeheartedly believes he has what it takes to be a starting QB in the NFL.

“Absolutely,” he said.

Why?

“I think the proof is in the film for the past two years,”

When a reporter suggested that maybe the film from last year was fibbing to him, he said, ‘that’s okay.”

Osweiler, who’s making $16 million guaranteed from the Browns this season, is thrilled to land smack dab in the middle of an open quarterback competition.

“That’s great,” he said. “Anytime you’re in a competition with other guys at your position, it brings out the best in you and it’s certainly the best thing for the team because the best player at that position is going to play and ultimately that should lead to wins to your football team.

Browns Rookie CB Howard Wilson Breaks Kneecap in Practice; Could Miss 2017

Cornerback Howard Wilson, the Browns’ fourth-round pick last month out of Houston, broke his kneecap in practice on Friday and will undergo surgery soon. He’ll be out a significant amount of time, possibly the entire season, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland.com reports. He’s one of 10 Browns draft picks in 2017.

“It’s disappointing but this a part of playing football,” Wilson said in a statement from the Browns. “It was kind of a freak thing. I was just running around and my knee just kind of locked up on me. I didn’t think much of it but the training staff wanted to get the proper testing so I got the MRI. I’m a positive person so I will have the surgery, work hard in my rehab and look forward to getting back to out there and helping this team win some games.”

The timetable for Wilson’s return will be determined after the surgery. It’s his second major knee injury in two years. He suffered a torn right ACL in week three of his 2015 season and sat out the rest of the year.

Wilson (6-0, 184) signed his rookie contract on Thursday and broke the kneecap late in practice.

“It’s unfortunate,” said said head coach Hue Jackson. “He’ll be out for a while, significant time. So we’ll deal with it accordingly. His spirits are high. He understands it. He understands what he’s dealing with. He’s already started to the process of getting his mind beyond that so he can get himself back as soon as he can.”