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Browns give Hoyer another start over Manziel

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Aug 14 2014 08:28:59 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2014 10:22:45 AM CDT
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns, in uniform

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Brian Hoyer will start Monday's preseason game at Washington, the second time the Cleveland Browns have gone with the veteran quarterback over popular rookie first-round pick Johnny Manziel.

Hoyer, who has four career starts and went 3-0 with the Browns last season, has been splitting first-team practice reps with Manziel this week.

The Browns plan to name a starter for the regular-season opener before their third preseason game, putting plenty of weight on this week's performance. Neither player excelled in the preseason opener at Detroit last week.

Coach Mike Pettine said Monday that "nothing has changed" on the quarterback depth chart and said Thursday the Browns would stick with Hoyer but get Manziel work with the starters in the first half of the "Monday Night Football" game at FedEx Field against the Redskins.

"It's just something right now where we are comfortable with Brian going out there to start the game," Pettine said. "I think it's a little overblown as to who the starter is going to be. The key component, as I've stated earlier this week, is that we are going to balance the reps. We will play it a little by ear as it goes on, we haven't truly decided as far as the rotation but the goal is, for when we look at the stat sheet at halftime, that they both have the same amount of repetitions and hopefully they both get a good amount of work."

Meanwhile, according to ESPN.com, Manziel suffered his first slip Monday when he was a few minutes late for a team meeting, but his tardiness was not a factor in Pettine's decision to start Hoyer in the second preseason game.

Sources told ESPN that Manziel and another "couple rookies" who went unidentified apparently misread a schedule that had the Browns conducting a brief five-minute meeting to start the week.

Pettine handled the matter "internally" with the players but did not overdramatize the issue, the sources said.

Pettine said Wednesday that "stories" was an accurate portrayal of a report that the Browns would shop Hoyer with veteran Rex Grossman signing.

Pettine was asked whether there is absolutely nothing to that NFL Network report.

"We're not going to comment on every story that's out there," he said. "We made a move to strengthen our quarterback room, and you just get these stories coming out. I don't want to be in the habit of commenting on all of them. I really addressed that situation yesterday."

Grossman was with Washington from 2010 to 2013 where Browns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan was the offensive coordinator for the Redskins.

Pettine said Grossman, a 12th-year veteran, could help both Manziel and Hoyer. Pettine said Grossman stepped right in with his knowledge of the offense.

"He went in the meeting room and they have all the installations up on the board and I think he processed it pretty quickly," Pettine said of Grossman. "There were a couple of minor tweaks to it, but it's all stuff that he's run before that he's comfortable with."

Since breaking him in with what seemed an organization-wide tough love approach in minicamp, Pettine has been more open with his praise of Manziel recently.

"He's been impressive. He's probably slightly ahead of the learning curve where we figured he would've been," Pettine said during an ESPN Radio appearance. "I think a big part of it for him is it's essentially him getting the playbook and it has been for a while. And I think he's finally starting to settle down with it.

"It's just a lot of information to process. And he's done a good job of it. We're very pleased with where he is."

Pettine is confident the quarterbacks can handle the no-huddle offense which the Browns used in practice and want to incorporate offensively at some point.

"Today was the first set of doing it," Pettine said after Wednesday's practice. "We were pretty basic offensively with the volume that we had no-huddle, but I think it's to any quarterback's advantage to be able to get up on the ball quick and force a defense to not be able to substitute and maybe be a little bit more vanilla with their calls or more worried about getting lined up then getting in advance detail.

"You see some teams that play well when they have that time to reset in between, and then I think you just need that in your arsenal to kind of unnerve a team, the ability to go no-huddle."

While balancing reps is the mantra inside the Berea, Ohio, team facility, there is growing confidence outside Browns' headquarters that Manziel will be the man by the opener.

CBS plans to send its No. 1 announcing team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to call the Browns opener at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Sept. 7 in anticipation of Manziel's debut. And Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said last week he expects Manziel to be the starter.