BEREA: Brock Osweiler has gone from an afterthought in a salary-dump trade to a legitimate candidate to become the starting quarterback of the Browns.
“Brock’s been a pleasant surprise,” coach Hue Jackson said Wednesday after the fourth practice of organized team activities. “He’s done a good job. He works hard at it every day. He’s into it. I think he really enjoys being here. I think [quarterbacks] coach [David] Lee’s done a great job with him. I think he’s really meshed with the other quarterbacks. So he has a good feel to him.”
On March 9, the Browns relieved the Houston Texans of the $16 million guaranteed left on Osweiler’s contract to acquire a 2018 second-round draft pick. For the Browns, the point of the trade was the pick, not Osweiler, who clashed with Texans coach Bill O’Brien and flopped last season after signing a four-year, $72 million deal.
Jackson thought he would be inheriting a difficult personality when Osweiler arrived.
“I expected everything that you guys wrote,” Jackson said. “I watched everything you guys wrote about what he was and what he wasn’t. I mean, I heard it from everywhere, too. I think the guy, since he’s been here, he’s been outstanding. I think you guys know me. I don’t judge people by what everybody else says. I kind of judge them by what I see.
“But everybody has a reputation before them, so his was a little bit different. He’s not any of that that we saw here. The guy’s been outstanding in our building, and I think that’s what’s most important.”
In the most recent practice, Osweiler had the best outing of the four quarterbacks. He continued to take repetitions behind first-team QB Cody Kessler and in front of rookie DeShone Kizer and Kevin Hogan.
Osweiler’s passes looked sharper than Kessler’s on a windy day at team headquarters.
Osweiler, 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, provided one of the highlights of the session by lofting a short touchdown pass over safety Derrick Kindred and into the hands of tight end Seth DeValve during a team drill on the goal line.
“It’s really interesting standing behind him because he’s so tall,” Jackson said. “He’s just looking on top of everybody and dropping balls down. It’s really interesting, and I told him this yesterday. I went back and watched a little bit of the film of him from last year. He looks much better right now. He’s more compact. He’s throwing the ball with a lot more velocity. He’s doing a lot of good things. He needs to keep growing, just like I said all our quarterbacks do.”
Jackson likes mobile quarterbacks. Osweiler, 26, is the least mobile of the four on the roster, but that doesn’t appear to be a deal breaker for the coach. He had Osweiler run a zone-read play in the latest practice.
“He’s kind of long and lanky doing it, but he knows how to do it,” Jackson said. “He’s worked at it.
“He looks gangly. The guy’s like 6-8, whatever he is, but for a guy that’s 6-8, he has pretty good hip flexibility. He really does. I mean, there’s guys who are 6-8 who can’t move. You guys did see him run down the field, so he can move. He’s not just a statue.”
Later in practice, Osweiler stepped up in the pocket during a seven-on-seven drill and fell forward when someone collided with his left leg. Immediately after he rose, he had a severe limp. An athletic trainer examined his left knee on the sideline for about four minutes.
But Osweiler returned to practice, participated in another seven-on-seven period and moved without any sign of injury.
Jackson explained he thought Osweiler absorbed the contact in his thigh more than his knee.
“He is fine,” Jackson said.
That’s good news for the Browns because they sound as if they’re counting on Osweiler much more now than they thought they ever would when they traded for him.