Ian Rapoport of NFL.com appeared on NFL Network Monday before Cleveland's preseason game against the New York Giants and said of Osweiler, "he is getting close, and if he plays well tonight, I would not be surprised at all" if head coach Hue Jackson names him the starter.
Rapoport went as far as to suggest Osweiler has a "stranglehold" on the race and pointed out Jackson went to veterans and asked for feedback, with many listing the former Houston Texan as their top choice.
That Osweiler—a veteran himself entering his sixth season—would have the support of older players in a race against rookie DeShone Kizer and 2016 third-round pick Cody Kessler isn't necessarily surprising on the surface. However, he is the signal-caller who struggled on his way to 15 touchdown throws and 16 interceptions for Houston last year.
What's more, Kizer was statistically a better quarterback in Cleveland's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints and found Jordan Payton for a late touchdown to give the Browns a 20-14 win.
Kizer finished 11-of-18 for 184 yards and the score and didn't throw an interception. Osweiler was 6-of-14 for 42 yards, and Kessler was 5-of-10 for 47 yards.
Ben Axelrod of WKYC in Cleveland weighed in on the quarterback race:
This is a Browns squad that hasn't been to the playoffs since the 2002 season largely because of failures at the quarterback position. Cleveland can at least point to Osweiler's two playoff appearances as hope for the immediate future because it appears as if he will start the team's season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10.