BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Don’t look now, but here comes Johnny.
For the second time in 3 days, Johnny Manziel took the reps in 11 on 11 with the first-team offense, and once again he looked really good doing it too.
It appears the light has gone on for the former Texas A&M star, whose natural play-making ability is starting to shine, and head coach Mike Pettine is noticing.
“I think we all see what Manziel can do,” Pettine said. “He makes plays with his feet, but he’s been probably better than we thought from in the pocket as well.”
On his first snap with the ones Wednesday, Manziel fired a 30-yard strike to Andrew Hawkins while Hoyer’s first snap with the second unit was fumbled under center.
It’s been that kind of week – for both quarterbacks.
“It feels a lot more comfortable for me,” Manziel said of his grasp of the offense.
Manziel appears to be building momentum as he becomes more comfortable on the field while Hoyer continues to do nothing to hurt his own chances of winning the starting job
But Hoyer also hasn’t begun to separate himself from the rookie either.
“They’ve both made improvement, and I think they’re both doing a great job of playing to their skill sets,” Pettine said. “It’s obviously very different, what they bring to the table. I think Brian’s starting to feel very comfortable in the pocket.”
The competition with Manziel has prevented Hoyer, who is coming off a torn ACL last October, from taking a breather in camp.
“I can’t afford it,” Hoyer said. “That’s what we’re here for is to play football. I really don’t think I need it. I feel fine.”
Hoyer and the Browns held their breath during Tuesday’s practice when he was knocked down after getting run into during a play. Even though he was worried that he might have hurt his knee again, Hoyer was able to get up and continue practicing with no problems.
It might have been the best thing to happen to the St. Ignatius alum leading up to Saturday’s preseason opener.
“It was more scary than anything else,” Hoyer said. “Kind of went down and waited for there to be some pain and there wasn’t, so it was actually kind of good to have some confidence going into Saturday knowing I’ve actually taken a hit and the brace withstood the hit and the brace felt good.
“I was scared for about two seconds and realized there was no pain and got up and went on to the next play.”
Despite a positive few days, Manziel continues to keep his head down and grind his way through his first NFL camp. He’s also doing his best not to focus on competing with Hoyer.
“I’m not looking at it that way,” Manziel said. “I mean, really I need to just keep learning the playbook and hopefully in due time I will be able to be comfortable with a lot broader region of the playbook than just the little area that I am now, and it’s steadily growing every day and that’s what I need to continue to do is get better, expand my knowledge of the playbook and my knowledge of the game.”
Why Can’t We Be Friends – We’ve reached the point in camp where things are starting to get testy on the field. Wednesday tempers once again flared a few times.
Running back Ben Tate and defensive tackle Phil Taylor went back and forth during the final session of the day. It wasn’t the first time that Taylor expressed himself. After Hoyer was forced to call a timeout on a play, Taylor taunted him by yelling, “Yeah call a time out, call timeout.”
Ahtyba Rubin gave Terrance West an extra shoulder following a run up the middle and then had some words for the rookie as he laid on the ground. Linebacker Craig Roberson also had a few words for receiver Will Snead after a play in the red zone.
Defense Wins Again – For the fourth time in 5 practices, the defense won the “competition period” at the end of practice – this time a red zone dive drill – and as a result retains the orange jerseys.
On the final play, linebacker Chris Kirksey knocked down Manziel’s pass intended for tight end Jim Dray just inside the goal line. Manziel admitted after practice that he forced the throw.
Settling The Starters – While most of the focus is on the quarterback competition, it isn’t the only position that Pettine would like settled by the third preseason game.
Right cornerback, nickel, WILL linebacker, running back, full back and the receiver depth all have yet to be decided.
Pettine would like all of the starters to be named in time for the dress rehearsal Aug. 23 vs. the Rams.
“That third game is critical to get that chemistry and cohesion,” Pettine said. “We’ve mixed the lineups a lot, which is good because you’re getting guys exposure. They’re in with the twos. They’re in with the ones. They’re going against the ones, going against the twos. At some point, you’ve got to settle down and develop that chemistry, that cohesion.”
Pettine added that more than likely he will rest the starters in the fourth and final preseason game, which is customary around the league.
Injury Report – WR Travis Benjamin (rest), TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder), OL Reid Fragel (lower leg), OL Randall Harris (knee); NFIL: OL Nate McDonald (wrist) did not practice Wednesday.
Up Next – Practice Thursday morning but it is CLOSED to the public.
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