From Camp Arm to Contender? Cody Kessler Pushes Forward
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There's been one constant this summer when you walk into the Eagles locker room after a tough practice, Cody Kessler will be at his locker with his nose in an IPad already breaking down film from the session.
Once a star at Southern California and the potential answer in Cleveland during the dark days, the former third-round pick is now on his third team in four years trying to open the eyes of Doug Pederson and Mike Groh.
Hard work is is part of Kessler's DNA, the son of a coach who understands that there are advanatges to be found through preparation.
"May dad always said, they might be able to out-talent you but you can make sure they never outwork you," Kessler told 973espn.com.
At just 6-foot-1 Kessler doesn't have the prototypical size of most NFL quarterbacks and in a city where Pederson has had tremendous success with lengthy QBs likes Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, the heir apparent to the backup spot is the 6-6 Nate Sudfeld.
Kessler was brought in late as nominal competition but all of a sudden after a tough spring it's Kessler who seems to have the quickest processing time when its comes to the trio behind Wentz, which also includes rookie Clayton Thorson.
"Cody has done a really good job of coming in late and acclimating himself quickly to our system," Groh said Wednesday. "He has the benefit of having been in a couple different systems in the NFL, coming from a pro-style offense like he played in at SC, so he has a lot of background, and once you start to build up and bank different concepts and things like that, you can fall back on that experience, and he's done a really good job with that."
As a rookie with the Browns Kessler learned from long-time backup Josh McCown how to handle the difficulty of multiple systems.
"Learning a new offense each time, it's tough just because you don't really get to take the next step with the offense," Kessler explained. "... Kind of get the second year in the system, third year, fourth year can really help but at the same time, I've learned and taught myself the process of how to learn, how to study plays. Learn the playbook, how to do that. So I don't know, is it a good thing, a bad thing I've had diffferent offices?
"I learned my rookie year from Josh McCown get your own process, get your own procedure."
The process and procedure didn't look great in the spring but a foundation was being built.
"I think it was very beneficial to get here for OTAs and have them time to install everything and obviously have the whole summer to go out there," Kessler said. "When I was throwing I could go through some plays. Practice calling some plays and throwing some of the different routes we have. It's a lot easier the second time around. We did the install and going over everything rather than just getting here from [training] camp.
"That time in the spring was very important for me especially being a quarterback. You have to learn a lot more and different things with the offense."
Over the past few days, Kessler had distanced himself from Thorson and closed the gap on Sudfeld, who isn't as quick making decisions in the pocket, perhaps a byproduct of not having the 12 NFL starts on his resume, experience that is invaluable.
"It's kind of helped me personally prepare for adversity," Kessler said of his starting experience. "I've seen a lot of different things and played against a lot of good teams."
For now though it's about taking advanatge of limited reps in practice.
"I've always been taught to treat practice like a game," Kessler said. "Each play you want to treat like it's a big opportunity. Each play is different. Try to make plays to stand out. These past few days we've been able to do that and hopefully we can keep it going."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen