Cody Kessler cleared for practice, so what comes next?
Cleveland Browns quarterback Cody Kessler has been cleared to play, but would it be irresponsible for head coach Hue Jackson to put him back on the field?
The Cleveland Browns received good news on Monday, but as with all things Browns in 2016 it came with a dose of the bad and more questions about the quarterback position.
Quarterback Cody Kessler, who suffered a concussion against the Pittsburgh Steelers that forced him to miss yesterday’s game, has been cleared from the concussion protocol and can resume practicing with the team.
As the Browns have a bye this weekend and do not play again until Dec. 11, that means that head coach Hue Jackson does not have to go through the charade of putting quarterback Robert Griffin III back on the field or continue to let Josh McCown abuse his body in the quest for a win.
Kessler’s return was offset by the news that veteran right guard (and occasional center) John Greco is done for the season after being placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
“I think John has been one of the most valuable members of our line,” Jackson said on Monday. “Anytime you have a guy that can play guard and start at guard for us but can play center like that, which he has had to do several times this year and we did not miss a beat. That is a huge loss for us, so I think he has had a really good season, but probably if you asked John he would say it is not where he wants to be.”
Greco is the second starting guard that the Browns have lost from the offensive line this season, as he joins left guard Joel Bitonio on the season-ending injury list.
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The Browns have time to figure out what to do with Greco’s spot on the line — and none of the options are enticing.
Alvin Bailey took over against the Giants when Greco went down and was a disaster. His inability to pass block led to a game-changing strip sack of McCown that Jason Pierre-Paul returned for a touchdown.
If Jackson has seen enough of Bailey, he could turn to Jonathan Cooper, a former first-round pick who has washed out of both Arizona and New England.
The other option would be to return Austin Pasztor to his natural guard position and turn the right tackle slot over to rookie Shon Coleman, who has yet to show much of anything after missing most of training camp and the preseason while recovering from a knee injury suffered while he was still at Auburn.
With those options staring him in the face, it would border on the irresponsible for Jackson to put Kessler back on the field.
Kessler has shown a McCown-like ability to take a beating and keep coming back for more, but after sustaining two verified concussions this season and numerous hits that would have left other quarterbacks begging out of the game, Jackson needs to think twice about letting Kessler play again.
“We are going to talk to our medical staff (about Kessler),” Jackson said. “As I said a while back, I think it is important that we do the right thing for him because it has been two concussions. I think it is too early (to say if he will play). Let me sort through and see who is totally healthy. Then we will make a decision and go from there.”
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If Jackson decides that it is better to be safe than sorry with Kessler, he still has a decision to make as Griffin has not yet been cleared for contact and McCown is essentially done as a full-time quarterback.
Hopefully Kevin Hogan enjoys his bye week as he may soon be drawing the short straw in the Browns ongoing quarterback saga.