Thomas’ pick to start at quarterback: Osweiler


Associated Press

BEREA

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 — 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 — and then some — 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 [Kizer] 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.”

As expected, coach Hue Jackson picked Osweiler to start his second straight preseason game when the Browns host the New York Giants on Monday night. Kizer will play second, with Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan getting time after that.

Jackson added the starter of the third exhibition game on Aug. 26 at Tampa Bay “has got a very good chance of trotting out there the first game against the Steelers.”

Injuries

Joel Bitonio’s comeback from a major injury has been stalled.

Cleveland’s starting left guard — and one of the Browns best players — could be out for an extended period with an unspecified knee injury.

The team said Bitonio, whose previous two seasons have ended prematurely because of injuries, got hurt during Tuesday’s practice.

Also, backup tackle Cam Erving, a former starter and first-round pick, injured his calf during the workout and could be out for a few weeks. The Browns did not say which legs the players hurt.

Jackson is hopeful both will be back for the Sept. 10 season opener against Pittsburgh. Bitonio and Erving are officially out of Monday night’s game against the New York Giants.

“We will see where they are and hopefully, we get them back as soon as we can,” Jackson said. “I know our medical staff, they do everything they can to get our guys back soon. But I don’t think it is anything major that is going to keep them out a ton of time. I just think we have to work through some things to make sure we get those guys both healthy.”

Bitonio played in just five games last season after he suffered a foot injury late in the first half of a loss to New England. He stayed in the game but wound up having ligament surgery. A year earlier, Bitonio’s season was cut short after 10 games by an ankle injury.

John Greco (Boardman), who made 10 starts last season at right guard and two at center, took Bitonio’s spot on Wednesday.

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