CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The best quarterback will play.
That’s the way it should be and that’s the way Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine is approaching the impending competition between veteran Brian Hoyer and first-round pick Johnny Manziel.
“I don’t know if they’re going to be sending each other Christmas cards anytime soon,” Pettine said. “But they both know they’re in it together and they’re going to compete. I think they both feel comfortable that, as a staff, we’re going to put the best quarterback that puts us in position to win games, we’re going to put him out there.”
The comments from Pettine came following his appearance along with Indians manager Terry Francona at the Positive Coaching Alliance breakfast held at FirstEnergy Stadium Monday morning.
Manziel just wrapped up his first introduction into the league over the weekend during rookie minicamp while Hoyer continues to work his way back from a torn ACL.
Pettine thought the weekend went well for Manziel even though it may not have been completely flawless, which is to be expected for a young player.
“It was a good start for him,” Pettine said. “We weren’t that concerned about the execution of plays. It was very difficult with a pieced-together offensive line and receiving corps guys who were learning the offense, too. It was a little ragged across the board when you’re bringing in guys and it’s new to all of them. I thought he did a good job handling himself in the huddle and making the call and the pre-snap communication, knowing where to go with the ball.
“It was a good learning process for him. I think it was a positive thing.”
To help eliminate a circus-like atmosphere around Manziel and eliminate distractions for the young players, the team limited access during the camp to local media only on Saturday – much to the chagrin of the national outlets.
“What we’re planning to do is limit as best we can, not to encourage it,” Pettine said. “We know the fire is burning. We just don’t want to throw gas on it.”
All eyes are on the rookie from Texas A&M but Pettine doesn’t see the perception that Manziel is bigger than the game – especially when he’s around his teammates and on the field.
“The see Johnny in the locker room and he’s a good guy, a good teammate,” Pettine said. “He doesn’t kind of carry [the Johnny Football personality] with him. There’s no diva-type personality there. He’s just another guy. He’s funny, fun to be around and he’s going to work hard and I think that’s something they all respect.”
Like they have with Manziel-mania, the Browns have also been cautious with Hoyer by limiting him to just individual and 7 on 7 drills this offseason. The addition of Manziel adds pressure to Hoyer, who underwent surgery last October, to do more on the field.
It’s a delicate balance for Hoyer, Pettine and the Browns – keep him safe during practice wile also giving him a fair opportunity to compete.
“The biggest problem is not the structure of the knee itself, but more somebody running into him,” Pettine said. “He’s cleared to do everything, but we just kept him out of team work because we didn’t want other bodies flying around him, so we might try to simulate 11-on-11 with him in there.”
Manziel and Hoyer have already been spending time together in meeting rooms and Pettine doesn’t see any issue with Hoyer’s ability to get along with Manziel.
“That’s the way you want it,” Pettine said. “He’s an ultra-competitive guy. He knew that more than likely we were going to bring in a quarterback and he reacted the way we want him to react, which was ‘Bring it on, let’s go.'”
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