Rookie DeShone Kizer wins Browns’ starting quarterback job

DeShone Kizer throws a pass against Tampa Bay during a preseason game Saturday. (Phelan Ebenhack/Associated Press)

DeShone Kizer started and played the entire first half of Cleveland’s third preseason game Saturday at Tampa Bay, and while his stat line — 6 for 18, 93 yards and one interception — wasn’t pretty, the rookie quarterback did enough well for Coach Hue Jackson to name him the Browns’ starter entering the regular season.

“This is not just for the moment,” Jackson said on a conference call with reporters on Sunday, via “We’re going to get with DeShone, ride with him through it all.”

Kizer, the 52nd pick overall out of Notre Dame in April’s NFL draft, beat out Brock Osweiler, Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler, who started eight games for the Browns last season, for the starting job. Osweiler, the former Texans quarterback who will earn $16 million guaranteed this season, didn’t play Saturday after struggling as the starter in the Browns’ first two preseason games. Jackson has yet to announce who will serve as Kizer’s backup.

The 6-foot-4 Kizer has completed 25 of 49 passes for 351 yards, one touchdown and one interception during the preseason. He also has rushed eight times for 47 yards and a touchdown after rushing for 18 touchdowns in two seasons at Notre Dame.

“His numbers weren’t what I would like or what he would like, but I thought he moved the team, made some plays,” Jackson said after Saturday’s 13-9 loss to the Buccaneers.

Kizer will become the 27th quarterback to start a game for the Browns since 1999 and the first Cleveland rookie to start a season opener since Brandon Weeden in 2012. Weeden, who had a five-year minor league baseball career before enrolling at Oklahoma State to play football, was 28 when he made his NFL debut. Kizer will be 21.

“It’s very exciting,” Jackson said. “When we drafted this young man, there was a purpose in drafting him. We thought that he had exactly what we were looking for. I give the executive team a lot of credit. We all dove into this the right way to go find a guy who hopefully can solve our quarterback issue.”

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