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Hue Jackson talks plans for Browns’ starters in 3rd preseason game

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How much will the starters play? Will the offensive line be ready? And Ibraheim Campbell returns to practice.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past two days, Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has shined light on what to expect from his team from a personnel perspective in the third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Quarterbacks

  • We already know that DeShone Kizer will start, which was announced Wednesday.
  • Jackson doesn’t plan on playing Kizer with the second-team offense. He will play with the first-teamers and exit with the first-teamers.
  • How long will that be? It will vary depending on a couple of factors. Have the first-teamers gotten enough plays in? Has Kizer and the offense had a couple of nice drives? If the answer to both of those questions is “yes,” then you might not see them go into the third quarter. However, if there are several three-and-outs, and if the Buccaneers win the time of possession battle by a good margin, the starters could come out again in the second half. It’s play count and effectiveness-dependent; the “quarter” that they play in to is almost irrelevant.

“If things are going well, we will take him out. If not, then we will let him play a little bit longer. That is probably the fun part for me about it. I get to make the call on that after halftime. If we need to play more, we will, and if we don’t, we won’t.”

  • Brock Osweiler will not play on Saturday, and Hue has already had that discussion with him. Jackson already has a sense of what Osweiler can do, and once Kizer exits, he’s more interested in evaluating the younger guys like Cody Kessler or Kevin Hogan.
  • Jackson has seen more diligence in the past two days since Kizer has been named the starter:

“I see an uptick in making sure that the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted. He had a really good practice today. Yesterday, I think he was different. I think he was on a new form and walking in the huddle for the first time as being the leader of the group. I am sure that is overwhelming for anybody, but today, he acted like the DeShone I know and took the bull by the horns and had a heck of a practice.”

  • Without explicitly saying the words, Jackson implied that Kizer is the Week 1 starter. A reporter asked “what if he were to completely flame out” against the Buccaneers. Jackson laughed at the thought, and just expressed confidence that Kizer will be OK.

Running Backs, Receivers, Offensive Line

  • RB Isaiah Crowell (groin) will play this week after missing the second preseason game.
  • When asked about positions or rotations still up for competition heading into Saturday’s game, Jackson specifically singled out “the pecking order at receiver,” which are the No. 3, No. 4, No. 5, and No. 6 receiver spots after Corey Coleman and Kenny Britt.
  • Regarding rotations still needing to be decided, Jackson also said that while it was good to see TE David Njoku play this past Monday, he said that Njoku “needs to take a jump this week in Tampa.”
  • The entire starting offensive line will play this week, except for LG Joel Bitonio. Hue has some concern that the entire offensive line really won’t have played together prior to Week 1. Jackson and the staff are talking to RT Shon Coleman about things he can get better at, but there doesn’t appear to be any competition at the spot besides him.

Defensive Line & Linebacker

  • On defense, the Browns like their defensive line, but still need to figure out the right rotation. Jackson noted they “need to see what they have in DL Brandon Thompson,” who was signed to replace DL Desmond Bryant.
  • Speaking of Bryant, here is what Jackson said about his release:

“I think Des was healthy and trying extremely hard. You guys know I have a relationship with Des that goes all the way back to Oakland, and we wish him well. It is just that this is where we were. This is the decision that we made to move forward and go in a different direction. Those things happen.”

  • Jackson says that MLB Joe Schobert was about 25 pounds heavier than he needed to be last season, and that dropoff is a big reason he’s had such a good start to the preseason this year.

Secondary

  • SS Ibraheim Campbell returned to practice for the first time since he suffered a concussion in the first preseason game. They will see how things go for him in practice before deciding whether to play him against the Buccaneers on Saturday.

Kicker

  • Jackson didn’t mention the kicking competition when asked about the top competitions remaining. When specifically asked about kicker, here is what Hue said:

“I think there is no question the kicking situation is in there too. There are some battles that are going on, and we are going to have to make some tough decisions going forward, but that is a good problem to have.”