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Browns Notes: Rookie QB Cody Kessler suddenly the backup, says he'll keep preparing as a starter

BEREA -- A month ago

BEREA — A month ago, rookie quarterback Cody Kessler ran out of the back of the end zone for a safety in the preseason opener. On Sunday, he’ll be a play away from facing the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2 of the regular season.
Robert Griffin III broke a bone in his left shoulder Sunday in the 29-10 loss to the Eagles and will miss at least eight games. Josh McCown, 37, will start, with Kessler as the backup.
“It’s just you’ve got to keep preparing as the starter,” Kessler, a third-round pick, said Monday. “You can never predict what’s going to happen or what’s going to happen in different games or different situations, but I’ve always told myself, whenever that time does come, whether it’s this year, early, late, next year, whenever it may be, I just want to be prepared and be ready.”
The Browns kept McCown as an insurance policy in case Griffin got hurt so they wouldn’t have to rush Kessler onto the field. He struggled in the preseason — he took two safeties in the opener – and was supposed to be allowed to develop while watching from the sideline.
Kessler might be forced onto the field much faster than anticipated, especially considering McCown missed eight games last year with a variety of injuries.
“There were some ups and downs, but I think the best part for me was just the learning process,” Kessler said of the preseason. “There’s things that I could have done and things that I can learn from moving forward to when I actually get live game reps, whenever that may be.
“It’s good tape to watch for me, to be able to say, ‘I did well on this play. I did bad on this. I want to work on this. I want to get better at that.’”
Coach Hue Jackson said Kessler needs practice reps to get ready if he’s needed, and he should see an increase as the No. 2.
“Gotta practice,” Jackson said. “I think the times you see him in preseason he hadn’t had an opportunity to have a lot of snaps in practice. We’ve just got to get him some more reps than what he had before. So we’ll cross that bridge as we go through this week.”
Rookie Kevin Hogan was drafted in the fifth round by the Chiefs, waived in final cuts and signed to Cleveland’s practice squad last week. He’s third on the depth chart.
“We’ll look to our guys first and then if we feel like we need to move on from there and find somebody, then we will,” Jackson said of adding a quarterback. “But right now I think we’re comfortable where we are and we’ll continue to have those discussions.”
NO REGRETS
Analysts weren’t kind to the Browns after Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz looked like a veteran in beating them Sunday. The Browns traded the No. 2 pick to Philadelphia rather than draft him.
“To have this guy kind of shove it down your throat, it’s a tough pill to swallow,” said ESPN’s Louis Riddick, who played safety for the Browns in 1993-95 and was a member of Philadelphia’s front office.
Jackson said there was no second-guessing Monday inside team headquarters after Wentz went 22-for-37 for 278 yards, two touchdowns and a 101.0 rating.
“No. That’s one thing I can tell you for sure,” he said. “He had a good game, a great game if you guys want to term it that, and I respect that.
“He’s a fine young man and they have good coaches, a good organization and he’s going to do well for them, but that was one game. We’ll look back and see where he is over a period of time.”
NFL Network’s LaDainian Tomlinson ripped the Browns for passing on Wentz in favor of draft picks.
“How do you keep on making these mistakes as the Browns organization?” the former All-Pro running back said. “You have a chance to draft Carson Wentz, who we think is going to be a really good player. Go back to 1999 when the Browns got back in Cleveland, you drafted Tim Couch instead of Donovan McNabb. Thus, you’ve had 25 starting quarterbacks over that time period.
“How do you keep making these mistakes if you’re the Browns organization? You obviously have a problem evaluating quarterbacks in that organization.”
SNAP JUDGMENT
Jackson is running out of patience with center Cameron Erving, whose shotgun snap over Griffin’s head for a safety was the pivotal play Sunday. It’s been a persistent problem, and Jackson was asked how many more chances Erving gets.
“That’s a good question. I don’t know you get too many chances to keep snapping over the quarterback’s head, and I think he knows that,” Jackson said. “It’s something that can’t happen in the game. It’s embarrassing, and it’s not right.
“But at the same time, I think for the negative that Cam did, he’s doing some good things, too. I don’t want to coach the center and the quarterback exchange, but if I’ve got to take my jacket off and go down there and start coaching it, then I’m going to.”
Right guard John Greco is the backup center and sympathizes with Erving, the No. 19 pick last year.
“It’s kind of every center’s worst nightmare,” he said. “We work it every day. It’s not an issue until it happens. So I just think as long as he’s OK mentally with it, I don’t think it’ll happen again.
“He’s a strong-willed guy. So we’ve just got to do everything we can to make him confident in his play.”
CALL IT OFF
Jackson again took responsibility for the failed fake punt that saw running back Duke Johnson lose 6 yards after taking a direct snap.
“There were some guys that needed to be in the game a little sooner than what they were and we didn’t get that communicated properly throughout,” he said. “And I have the veto to say, ‘OK, let’s not do this,’ and I didn’t call it off soon enough.”
The TV copy of the game appeared to show only 10 Browns on the field, but Jackson insisted they had 11.
“We weren’t a man down. We had 11,” he said. “It’s just that I think they snuffed it out once our (offensive) guys started to go back and with Duke standing back there. The time of surprise didn’t happen the way it should’ve, and so they snuffed it out and made a great play.”
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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