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(UPDATED) Browns coach Hue Jackson says he'll name starting QB before first preseason game

BEREA -- Browns fans are experts on quarterback competitions in training camp. After all

BEREA — Browns fans are experts on quarterback competitions in training camp. After all, they’ve seen one just about every year for nearly two decades.
Some turned the competitors into enemies. Others divided the locker room. Most featured underwhelming candidates. And one wasn’t decided until late in the preseason, only to be reversed during the first game of the regular season (Charlie Frye vs. Derek Anderson).
Coach Hue Jackson will start his first training camp with the Browns this afternoon by holding his own competition. But on Thursday he set a definitive timetable for naming a starter, which points to Robert Griffin III being the clear favorite to open under center Sept. 11 when the regular season opens in Philadelphia.
“Before the first preseason game,” Jackson said. “Oh, yeah. I will. We have to. That’s just the right thing to do.”
The preseason opener is Aug. 12 in Green Bay. The Browns have 11 practices before then, including a scrimmage at Ohio State.
Griffin, 26, is the obvious front-runner. He signed a two-year, $15 million deal in March and took the majority of the first-team repetitions during the offseason program.
Josh McCown, 37, is the alternative after a solid but injury-filled 2015. Third-round rookie Cody Kessler and journeyman Austin Davis fill out the depth chart.
Jackson called it an “open competition” — as with just about every position — but wouldn’t detail how the repetitions will be divided for the first two weeks of camp before he makes the official decision.
“I think whoever earns that job is going to earn it out here on this field,” Jackson said. “It’s going to show itself really quickly. So I know everybody’s looking for me to say, ‘Here’s the guy.’ But I still want to get out here with our players because all of them have to earn a starting spot as we move forward.
“I don’t want to rush into anything until I think we’re getting close to that point to have to do that and I don’t think we’re at that point yet.”
Griffin was offensive rookie of the year in 2012 but fell out of favor in Washington after on-field struggles, injuries and clashes with coaches. He didn’t play a snap last year in his final season with Washington despite being healthy.
He had an up-and-down performance during offseason practices with the Browns but Jackson consistently complimented his work. He reiterated he believes Griffin is headed in the right direction and explained what he wants to see from him.
“Just play the position how we expect it to be played and that’s at every position,” Jackson said. “We have an expectation of how that position plays and I think contrary to what I think some people feel, I think he was getting there and has done a good job.
“I just think there’s still another step. That was OTAs. The intensity is going to ramp up a little bit at every position. I think what’s important is we’re trying to create a winning football team here because I truly expect to win, as I said from Day One. So that’s what we’re going to set out to do at every position.”
Griffin is the logical choice to start because the Browns believe he has a chance to be the long-term answer at the position that’s been a wasteland for them. If Griffin gets the opening-day nod, he’ll be the 25th starter since 1999.
So the Browns need to find out if he can recapture his rookie form and take advantage of his strong arm and sprinter’s speed. He had a historic first year, going 9-6 and leading Washington to the playoffs. He passed for 3,200 yards with 20 touchdowns, five interceptions and a 65.6 completion percentage for a 102.4 rating, and rushed for 815 yards and seven scores.
His production dropped off significantly over the next two seasons, and in his career he’s 14-21 as a starter with a 63.9 completion percentage, 8,097 yards, 40 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and a 90.6 rating.
Rookie receiver Corey Coleman, the No. 15 pick in the draft, shares Baylor as an alma mater and seems likely to share a huddle with Griffin when the season starts. Coleman said he worked out with Griffin for three days in Los Angeles over the summer.
“He looked really good,” Coleman said. “He’s ready to roll. Our connection’s really good, too.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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