USA TODAY Sports’ Lindsay H. Jones looks at how the big offseason changes in the AFC North will affect the division’s 2017 NFL season.
USA TODAY Sports
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — After weeks of speculation, analysis and evaluation, the Browns’ quarterback competition is headed into its home stretch.
Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas believes it’s over and that Brock Osweiler will start the season opener on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh.
“I could be totally wrong,” Thomas said Wednesday. “I might be going out on a limb here, but I think they’re grooming Brock to be the starter in Week 1 based on what I’ve seen.”
Thomas has seen it all during 10 seasons with Cleveland. He’s witnessed the Browns bungle enough quarterback decisions that he’s hoping the team gets it right this time.
His preference is for the Browns to show patience and not rush rookie DeShone Kizer, the second-round pick who has had an impressive camp and rallied the team to a win in his exhibition debut. Kizer, a second-round pick from Notre Dame, could very well be ready, but Thomas feels the more prudent approach is to let him learn while watching Osweiler.
“It is a competition, but I would expect Brock to win because of his experience,” he said. “And a rookie quarterback is the hardest position to get ready to play in your first year. So there’s no doubt he could win the competition. I definitely would expect probably Brock to win it just because my personal philosophy is as a quarterback it takes at least two or three years to have a basic level of understanding of NFL defenses and offenses to be able to operate proficiently out there on the field, especially in Week 1.”
Coach Hue Jackson is expected to give Osweiler a second straight preseason start when the Browns host the New York Giants on Monday night.
As a team leader and 10-time Pro Bowler, Thomas has opinions that matter greatly to Jackson. He often consults with him on major decisions, and Thomas said that “99 times out of 100 we’re on the same page, because everybody’s out there at practice, everybody’s watching the film, it becomes pretty clear on the direction of the decisions that he’s going to make.”
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