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As the scouting combine draws near, DeShone Kizer finds himself in a situation familiar to several recent Cleveland Browns quarterbacks.

It’s life in what has annually turned into “Browns Season” — that time of Browns excitement between the Super Bowl and training camp.

This is the time of year when the next great discovery dominates the discussion, when the players who will be on the team in the future are far more important than the players already on the team.

The best thing Kizer can do? Ignore it — every bit of it.

Because during Browns Season, talk of the draft and free agency dominates. Which means the quarterback who started 15 games last season is forgotten.

In some ways, it’s understandable. The Browns did finish last season winless. But it’s probably not wise to dismiss Kizer’s chances of keeping the starting job in 2018.

He earned that chance.

Kizer endured a miserable rookie season, and one of the things he said after the last game was that he would be remembered as the quarterback of an 0-16 team.

Technically, he was correct. But there were many contributors to the record.

Kizer experienced what many before him had endured: the Cleveland Browns quarterback meat grinder. No team grinds them up and spits them out faster.

Kizer had his issues, and to his credit he’ll admit to them. A completion percentage of 53.6 is not adequate for an NFL starting quarterback, and 22 interceptions is too many.

Kizer never hid from those statistics; he kept saying the right things and doing his best to improve. But his climb uphill was as steep as Mount Everest. The Browns were a team, according to their own coach, that needed to be perfect to win, and nobody could disagree with that take.

There was an overall lack of talent, a team teardown of great magnitude, no real threats at receiver. It added up to a season in which whatever could go wrong did go wrong. It was so bad that GM Sashi Brown was fired for doing everything he said he would do: tear down the team, go young, build with cap room and draft picks, and point to the 2018 and 2019 seasons as the turnaround.

Kizer had to survive a rookie season in the midst of this hurricane.

But as he starts to prepare for his second season, he has some advantages.

First, Kizer has played. He’s gone through the rookie struggles. Boy, has he ever. He knows now what he didn’t know when he walked into the building as an eager rookie. That is a benefit. It can’t get worse, can it?

Second, Kizer got better late in the season. There were mistakes, but in his last game, Kizer played his best game. He had the Browns on the doorstep of their first win but was done in by a dropped pass at the 10-yard line in the final minutes. The overall effort and heart were more than impressive and gave Kizer something to build on.

Third, Kizer still has the size, arm strength and skills that prompted the Browns to draft him in the second round. He was thrown to every wolf in North America, but he lasted the season. Had he not been benched a game for throwing interceptions, he’d have been the first quarterback since Tim Couch in 2001 to start all 16 games for the Browns in the post-expansion/post-1999 era. That’s an achievement.

Finally, Kizer’s attitude was excellent. He showed up early and stayed late. He never stopped working, never stopped trying to be better. He was accountable, didn’t complain and stayed true to the team. Talent eventually shows; attitude can’t be faked. Kizer has a good one.

He will have to deal with the reality of the Browns adding two quarterbacks, one via the draft and one via free agency. But Hue Jackson has been steadfast in saying the Browns will play the best guy. Kizer will be given the chance to show he is the best guy, and his chances should not be dismissed. Players often make great strides between their rookie year and second season.

Kizer has the chance to work on his game in the offseason, and he’ll start with the edge of a year’s experience with the team.

He deserves the chance to go out and win the job.

One of the oldest adages in sports is that competition either breaks or brings out the best in players. How Kizer comes out of this Browns Season is up to him.

If he betters himself and earns the starting spot for the 2018 opener, the Browns will be just fine.

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Green Bay Packers activate Tramon Williams, who could become first to play for two NFL teams in a postseason



The Green Bay Packers have elevated recent cornerback acquisition Tramon Williams to their active roster for Sunday’s NFC Championship Game with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Williams, who was acquired by the Packers and put on their practice squad after he was waived by the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, could become the first player in NFL history to play for two different teams in the same postseason.

The 37-year-old Williams had three tackles in the Ravens’ 17-3 AFC divisional playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills last week.

Williams previously played for the Packers from 2007-14 and 2018-19, and he played a key role in the team’s run to Super Bowl 45 with interceptions in playoff games vs. Philadelphia and Atlanta.

“It’s special,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the team’s decision to sign Williams this week. “He’s one of those teammates you just love playing with over the years. He’s such a professional. The way he takes care of himself, he looks amazing. He looks like he could go out and play 70 plays for us. I’m not sure if he’s going to or not, I hope he does, because he’s still so talented. But he’s one of those special guys, special personalities.”

“… You think about the 2010 run — he ended a game in Philly; (he) basically gave us a huge jolt in the divisional round (against Atlanta) with his pick-6. Still one of my favorite moments in all the moments in that, is watching him pick that ball off and run down the sidelines with Nick Collins to put us up 14 going into half. So, it’s fun. I wish we did this every year.”

Green Bay may need some extra depth in the secondary due to the uncertain status of starting cornerback Kevin King, who didn’t practice Friday because of a back injury and is listed as questionable.

The Packers also elevated defensive lineman Brian Price and cornerback KeiVarae Russell from the practice squad to the active roster for game day. In other moves, they signed punter Ryan Winslow to the practice squad and released running back Dexter Williams from the practice squad.

ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Kansas City Chiefs CB Bashaud Breeland clears concussion protocol



KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chiefs starting cornerback Bashaud Breeland has cleared the concussion protocol and will be available to play in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills.

Breeland was knocked out of last week’s divisional round win over the Cleveland Browns in the second half and entered the concussion protocol. He practiced on a limited basis all week.

He started 11 games during the regular season and in the win over the Browns after missing the first four contests because of an NFL suspension for a violation of the substance abuse policy.

Breeland had two interceptions during the 2020 regular season as well as an interception in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV win over the San Francisco 49ers.

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Miami Dolphins continue to build around Tua Tagovailoa by hiring QB coach Charlie Frye



DAVIE, Fla. — The Miami Dolphins continued their offseason pursuit to build around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as they hired Central Michigan offensive coordinator Charlie Frye as their new QB coach Saturday.

Frye was a key assistant working with Tagovailoa during the Elite 11 high school QB camp that helped the young QB burst onto the national scene. In a nod to how valuable the experience was to him, Tagovailoa later hired Elite 11 head coach Trent Dilfer as his personal coach during his NFL pre-draft process.

Frye will replace quarterbacks coach Robby Brown, who is out despite having time left on his contract. Brown becomes the third known offensive assistant to leave, joining Chan Gailey, who resigned as offensive coordinator earlier this month, and offensive line coach Steve Marshall, who also is out despite having time left on his contract.

Brown and Marshall had both been hired by the Dolphins after Gailey had vouched for them.

Tight end coach George Godsey took over quarterback coach responsibilities in the second half of the season — an early sign that the Dolphins were ready to make a change at the position.

Miami continues to build around Tagovailoa, who is coming off an uneven rookie season but has received strong public support from coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier in recent weeks amid speculation and criticism.

The Frye move is another example of the team trying to put Tagovailoa in a comfortable situation entering Year 2.

Frye, 39, spent five years as a NFL quarterback, mostly notably with the Cleveland Browns. He’s spent the last two seasons as Central Michigan’s offensive coordinator and QB coach.

The Dolphins, who are coaching the Senior Bowl this week, have yet to officially name an offensive coordinator and may not make a hire until after they return from Mobile, Alabama.

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