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Browns QB Cody Kessler practices and plans to start, but coach Hue Jackson hasn't made decision

BEREA — The quarterback situation received a bit of clarity Wednesday.
But not enough for coach Hue Jackson to name a starter for Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans.
“It’s too early to talk about all of that,” Jackson said. “Obviously Cody right now is the starter on our football team until I feel otherwise.
“So we’ve got to make decisions about where they are towards the end of the week.”
Rookie Cody Kessler (chest/ribs) and veteran Josh McCown (broken left collarbone) practiced but were limited. During the 20 minutes open to reporters, they threw extensively and looked good.
“I thought both of them threw the ball around well,” Jackson said. “We’ll keep looking at Cody, but he’s taking reps, Josh took reps today. It was good to see them both out there.”
Kessler has started the last three games following injuries to Robert Griffin III (left shoulder) and McCown but left Sunday in the first quarter of a 33-13 loss to the Patriots. Kessler said Wednesday the plan and his goal were to start against the Titans but admitted the injuries remained “pretty painful” and it hurt when he threw.
“The best part about it is it is improving. It feels a lot better,” he said.
Kessler said he’s been rehabbing two or three times a day in an attempt to get ready. The process includes repeated movements that are uncomfortable to try to keep the shoulder loose. The issue is on his left side.
“And a ton of ice,” he said.
Kessler has absorbed plenty of big hits in his three starts and tried to return against the Patriots, but the trainers wouldn’t allow it. Jackson admires the toughness but will consult with the medical staff before making a decision.
“It’s important that we always do the right thing about our players, especially our young players,” Jackson said. “We don’t want to put them in a situation where we can injure them more.
“The development of our young players is really important all the way through. I want guys to be tough but tough to a point to where they understand this is about longevity. It’s about being able to be available for your team for a duration of time. So we’ll make sure that he, if we do stick him out there, he’s really ready to play.”
Jackson wanted to see how Kessler and McCown responded after practice.
“Normally (that’s) when things start to on their bodies either break down or get better,” Jackson said. “So we’ll get a feel for where they are after today and into tomorrow.”
He expects to name a starter in the next couple of days and not wait until Sunday to keep the Titans guessing.
“I’m not about that,” Jackson said. “It’s important that our team know who the quarterback is.”
McCown, 37, was the starter in Week 2 before suffering the non-displaced fracture of the collarbone. He led the Browns to 20 points in the first quarter, when the bone broke on a big hit, and finished the 25-20 loss.
McCown sprinted from stretching to the quarterback drills Wednesday and desperately wants to play again. He had tears in his eyes after the Ravens game talking about how much he appreciates playing this late in his career.
“I want to play anytime they give us an opportunity to,” he said Monday.
Kessler, a third-round pick, has been better than expected, and Jackson doesn’t want to pick between the two until he has to. So he’ll wait for more definitive word from the medical staff.
“That is obviously Coach Jackson’s decision,” Kessler said. “He makes the call on all of those, but I’m going to continue to keep the same process and continue to prepare like I have the last few weeks.”
With the uncertain health of Kessler and McCown, Jackson’s not taking any chances. He promoted rookie Kevin Hogan from the practice squad Tuesday and gave more throwing repetitions in practice to receiver Terrelle Pryor.
When Kessler and backup Charlie Whitehurst were injured against the Patriots, Pryor was forced to play his former position of quarterback.
“It’s tough to just go in without getting any reps and without practicing that stuff,” Pryor said.
Jackson won’t let that happen again.
“I want to make sure that we’re really on top of it this week,” he said. “I put Terrelle in a tough spot, trying to yell plays from the sideline and this and that. That’s hard.
“So lesson learned by me to make sure guys are truly ready if something unforeseen happened.”
Hogan was a fifth-round pick of Kansas City and signed to the Browns practice squad before the opener. He’s gone from fourth string to possible backup in six weeks.
“It is pretty unbelievable,” he said. “It is just one of those freak things that happens, but we have some tough guys back there. I know Josh is getting close and Cody is tough as nails.
“You always want to prepare as if you are the starter. Due to the circumstances, I am going to be in my book even more and be watching tape even longer.”
Titans coach Mike Mularkey said he’s never seen a team struck by so many quarterback injuries in such a short time.
“Not to this extent, no,” he said on a conference call. “I have been around a long time and had some issues, but I can’t say it has been like that.”
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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