Brock Osweiler will get the first crack at winning the Cleveland Browns' starting quarterback job, as head coach Hue Jackson named him the starter for Thursday's preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints.
"At this stage in the evaluation process of our quarterbacks, we are going to have Brock start the preseason opener against the Saints on Thursday night," Jackson said Monday, per the team's official site.
"A lot goes into our evaluation but it's always going to be about efficiently and effectively running the offense. You want your starter to be able to do that despite any circumstance. Brock hasn’t really gotten any first team reps and this will give him that chance. We look forward to seeing what he can do with this opportunity throughout the week and against the Saints."
At a press conference on Monday, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, Jackson told reporters Osweiler has gained players' respect in the locker room and the decision to start him is the "best thing for us right now."
Cody Kessler will serve as the second-team quarterback, with DeShone Kizer sitting third on the depth chart and Kevin Hogan fourth. It is unclear if all four quarterbacks will play in the opener.
"We are going to see a lot more of all of them this preseason and everyone in that room still has the chance to earn more opportunities and the right to lead our team as the starter when the regular season begins," Jackson said, via the team's site.
Osweiler, 26, is in his first season with the Browns after coming over in an offseason trade with the Houston Texans. He threw for 2,957 yards and 15 touchdowns against 16 interceptions in 2016, his lone season in Houston after signing a four-year, $72 million contract. The Texans gave up a 2018 second-round pick to unload the $16 million in guaranteed base salary owed to Osweiler in 2017.
Kizer, Hogan and Kessler are all products of the Browns trying to find a long-term starter outside the first round of the draft. Hogan and Kessler were part of their 2016 draft class. Kessler threw for 1,380 yards and six touchdowns in nine games (eight starts) last season. Hogan threw for 104 yards and was picked off twice in limited action.
Kizer, once considered a potential No. 1 overall selection, wound up going off the board at No. 52 to Cleveland in April's draft.
Kessler opened camp as the "starter," but all four guys should get to see extended action during the preseason.