Cleve­land Browns

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - AFC NORTH -

It’s de­ci­sion time in the Browns’ an­nual quar­ter­back com­pe­ti­tion as the team pre­pares for its most im­por­tant pre­sea­son game Aug. 26 at Tampa Bay..

Brock Osweiler has taken the bulk of the work with the No. 1 of­fense since early August. He has been pushed by rookie DeShone Kizer, who has looked solid in two pre­sea­son games.

On Aug. 21, Kizer com­pleted 8 of 13 passes for 74 yards and ran for 35 yards and a touch­down vs. the Gi­ants. Osweiler was 6 of 8 for 25 yards and an in­ter­cep­tion.

Be­fore the Aug. 21 game, a group of Browns play­ers chose to kneel and hud­dle dur­ing the na­tional an­them. Sev­eral oth­ers stood next to the group and placed an arm on one of a kneel­ing team­mate. The play­ers’ stance came as head coach Hue Jack

son was crit­i­cized last week for say­ing he hoped player protests “wouldn’t hap­pen here.”

“Over the last sea­son we have seen play­ers come un­der un­fair scrutiny for protest­ing dur­ing the an­them, mainly be­cause the fo­cus has be­come on whether or not a player is be­ing dis­re­spect­ful to the flag or mil­i­tary and not on the is­sue and cause at­tempt­ing to be ad­dressed by the protest,” Jack­son said.

Rookie watch: TE David Njoku missed the pre­sea­son opener and valu­able prac­tice days with a back injury. But Njoku is back to full speed and has made sev­eral im­pres­sive catches. He won’t be a full-timer as a rookie, but the Browns think he has the ath­leti­cism and size to be a red­zone threat. He’ll play be­hind

Seth DeValve, who will catch

plenty of passes, and Ran­dall Telfer, who’s listed as the starter be­cause he’s an ex­cel­lent blocker.

Note­wor­thy: G Joel Bito-nio and DT Danny Shel­ton have in­jured knees. Both are week-to-week. ... Rookie Jabrill Pep­pers could start at strong safety. He has also re­turned kicks and punts.

SCOTT R. GALVIN, USA TO­DAY SPORTS

Brock Osweiler, above, is in a race with rookie DeShone Kizer to start at quar­ter­back for the Browns. Osweiler has started the team’s first two pre­sea­son games.

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