DeShone Kizer sees beyond Packers backup role

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  • By Jelani Scott NFL.com
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Although his first two years in the NFL may suggest a career already down for the count, Green Bay Packers quarterback DeShone Kizer wants to make it clear that no one should count him out.

The 23-year-old QB is preparing to begin his second season with the Packers after being traded from the Cleveland Browns last March. Staying in this league is a privilege no player can ever take for granted and, as he enters Year 3, Kizer recently expressed that he is feeling the heat more than ever before.

"Right now, it's all about making sure that every time I step out on that field that I am giving 100-percent effort. There is no complacency," Kizer told Jim Owczarski of USA Today's Packers News. "There is no 'next year' anymore. You grow up within sports really focusing in on development and understanding there's a timeline that's in place, so you don't necessarily put as much pressure on yourself to get things done right away.

"Well, that timeline is starting to shrink for me in the sense that the lifespan of an average NFL athlete is three years. This is year three for me. I've gone out there, I've put things on tape and now it's about making sure that from here on out everything that I put on tape really reflects who I know I can be."

To this point, Kizer's film will show flashes of potential mixed with the woes displayed by many young QBs before him. In his lone season with the Browns, Kizer was the guy on a team that became only the second group in NFL history to go 0-16.

Kizer started 15 games that year -- the one DNP came via a benching in Week 6 -- and recorded 11 touchdowns, 2,894 passing yards and a league-high 22 interceptions. In three game appearances with Green Bay, he went 20 of 42 for 187 yards and two picks.

Fast forward to 2019, Kizer is ready to change his public perception. As Aaron Rodgers' understudy, Kizer's goals may sound lofty but the Notre Dame product has said he's willing to put in the work.

"Personnel, especially in this organization, is strictly upstairs. And I don't work upstairs. My office is downstairs. Therefore, my mentality is about me. I have all the confidence in the world that when I'm playing my best ball there's no one who can stop me," he shared. "For me to compare myself to another backup quarterback who's in or a tryout guy who comes in would be dumb of me in the sense that I would be limiting myself because I don't see myself as a career backup in this league.

"I don't see myself as Aaron Rodgers' backup for the final era of his career. I see myself as a future Super Bowl MVP. That's the goal that I want to head toward. That's the level I want to play at. Therefore, if I'm competing and focused in on the backup competition, then once again, I'm limiting myself."

Getting from underneath Rodgers' highly touted shadow won't be easy but Kizer will have a chance to keep learning from one of the game's best in hopes of one day getting another starting spot.

His career thus far has lacked consistency -- he'll be playing under his fourth head coach in three seasons this year -- but he's not letting that deter him. Kizer believes his confidence and focus will eventually separate him.

"I truly believe that I'm on an upward trajectory. I'm playing the best football I've ever played. I'm not turning the ball over as much anymore. I'm seeing the game," he said. "I'm learning so much from Aaron. I'm learning so much from the systems that I've been in that I truly believe that at any point in time as we speak, if I can continue to stay on the path that I'm on right now, that I can get back to the path that I thought that I was on as a rookie starting in this league."

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