Quarterbacks will be the main focus for the Cleveland Browns in their preseason opener Thursday night against the New Orleans Saints.
QB Brock Osweiler will get the start for the Browns and the chance to secure the job for the regular-season opener, with Cody Kessler and rookie DeShone Kizer to follow. Kessler has struggled in camp. Kizer could earn the chance to get more snaps in the second preseason game with a strong performance against the Saints.
Osweiler earned the start partly by default, partly by performance. If he plays well, he could force coach Hue Jackson to commit to the veteran as the starter against Pittsburgh in the season opener.
The quarterbacks are not the only position of note, however, as the Browns hope to start to erase the memory of a 1-15 season, the worst in team history. The Browns lost all four preseason games last year, which has Jackson talking about playing to win this season's practice games.
"I don't want to go oh-fer again," Jackson said. "I don't want to feel like that. I don't think this team deserves that."
Among other positions and players of interest:
Myles Garrett, the draft's first overall pick, will start at defensive end. Garrett has done everything asked of him in his first camp, and he said he's eager to finally tackle a quarterback instead of avoiding the QB -- as defenses are mandated when practicing against their own quarterbacks. "It is really harder to avoid hitting them than it is to actually wrap him up and take him down," Garrett said.
The Browns' other two first-round picks are on different tracks for the opener. Jackson said on his radio show Wednesday that tight end David Njoku will not play due to a back issue. Njoku needs reps, so his absence is significant. Safety Jabrill Peppers was active in the team's recent intrasquad scrimmage. He is listed as a backup safety, but if he continues to impress, he may break into the starting lineup before preseason ends.
Second-year wide receiver Corey Coleman has as much to prove as anyone on the team. Coleman was hampered as a rookie by injury and ineffective play. Coleman did not top 41 yards receiving in any of the eight games he played in after returning from a broken hand. Jackson said in the offseason that Coleman had to step up; it starts in the preseason games.
The receiver group is a question mark after Kenny Britt and Coleman, though Ricardo Louis has emerged as camp has progressed. Louis figures to be the third receiver, with Rashard Higgins the fourth. A group that includes Jordan Leslie, Rannell Hall and Josh Boyce will get plenty of playing time.
Among others: Running back Isaiah Crowell has picked up right where he left off after averaging 4.9 yards per carry in '16. ... Right tackle Shon Coleman will try to nail down the starting spot; he's done well to date. ... Tank Carder and Joe Schobert will compete to see who gets the middle linebacker spot. ... Tight end Seth DeValve will get plenty of snaps in Njoku's absence; DeValve has emerged in practice as an improved player.