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Browns rookies readying for day one of OTA’s

Posted May 20, 2014

Bitonio, Manziel among those who will see starting reps

We’re 111 days from the opening kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers and we might hear this one word every day until then.

Competition.

We’ll promise to try and not force it down your throat on ClevelandBrowns.com. But if you listen to what Mike Pettine says, it’s what he intends to build his football upon.

“We could have an injury, a player in training camp, somebody goes down,” Pettine said Monday in Akron to reporters. “We have to be in the business of building the best roster. Having competition at all positions. And having those next guys be ready and step up to play.”

When Pettine reviewed the minicamp film, one rookie in particular captured his attention: Joel Bitonio.

The Browns’ head coach raved about his rookie lineman’s football IQ. Offensive line coach Andy Moeller has relayed to Pettine how quickly Bitonio has picked up on the playbook. Pettine made it clear that Bitonio, along with the other rookies, will have no limitations in terms of playing time. If the staff feels like he’s the best, he’ll be in the lineup. Tuesday’s OTA’s will be the first level playing field test to see if Bitonio’s hot minicamp start can translate with the veterans.

“The thing that just jumped out at me, was his ability to get off the ball,” said Pettine after reviewing Bitonio’s minicamp film. “Just how his initial quickness was, which I think is very critical in the zone scheme.”

Of course the competition at quarterback was brought up by reporters. Pettine gave his first detailed answer about how the situation will work.

Every snap that Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel will take in a practice was charted out recently, in a meeting with Pettine and offensive coaches Kyle Shanahan and Dowell Loggains. Each will see equal time with the various offensive line, wide receiving and tight end groups, making the battle as fair as possible. Because Hoyer hasn’t been cleared for full 11-on-11 snaps, the Browns will simulate those reps this week during OTA’s. Defensive linemen will only rush about three or four steps, to ensure no accidental bodies fly into Hoyer’s knee.

As the season inches closer, don’t expect the first-year head coach to stick comfortably to the defensive side of the football. Because of how important this quarterback decision will be, Pettine will be present in many of the offensive meetings.  

“I’ll be a little bit more involved offensively than people might think that I will be,” Pettine said. “I don’t know if Kyle [Shanahan] knows that yet,” Pettine joked.

Other quick notes and quotes

  • The Browns cut fullback Chris Pressley on Monday. Pettine said they are looking at some free agent guys, but are also considering switching some positions of internal guys. Pettine specifically mentioned the flexibility of some of their tight ends.
  • “Johnny has said all the right things. That’s one of the reasons we drafted him, because we knew he could handle it. He knew he was going to have to take a step back, and check his ego at the door, and kind of earn that nickname again,” Pettine said about his rookie quarterback.