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With Brian Hoyer healthy, QB competition on level playing field; London looms for NFL

Posted Jul 18, 2014

ClevelandBrowns.com takes you around the NFL with the Daily Kickoff.

Brian Hoyer, Big Ben, Ryan Mathews

It wasn’t exactly a big revelation, but by confirming to reporters covering Joe Haden’s celebrity softball game Thursday that he is fully healthy to participate in training camp, Brian Hoyer removed a question that had lingered during the offseason.

Would the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback competition truly be on a level playing field?

As he continued to recover from the season-ending knee injury he suffered last year, Hoyer had some limitations during offseason workouts. He didn’t participate fully in team drills, and when he did drop back to throw, he didn’t face the same pass rush that Johnny Manziel and the Browns’ other quarterbacks faced (although no quarterback was subjected to contact, and that will also be true in training camp).

The biggest differences for Hoyer were that he didn’t have to throw against as close a well of front-seven defenders nor was faced with having to run full throttle to escape pressure, as Manziel, Tyler Thigpen, and Connor Shaw did.

When Hoyer said “it’s exciting for me” to be able to practice “full go,” he isn’t only referring to the fact that all of his hard work in rehabilitation has paid off.

It also means that he will be able to display the full extent of his physical skills and give the coaches a complete picture in their evaluation of who should be the Browns’ starter on Sept. 7.

ROGER GOODELL CAN SEE NFL TEAM IN LONDON WITHIN FIVE OR 10 YEARS

The NFL’s increasing success with regular-season games played in London has convinced the league that a franchise based there could become a reality soon. 

And during an interview with NFL Network, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defined soon as within five or 10 years.

“We couldn’t be happier with what we’re seeing,” Goodell said. “We actually couldn’t be more surprised by the tremendous demand for NFL football in London, in the UK in general, and frankly in Europe. So it’s not something that I think is 15 or 20 years away. It could be five or 10 years away.”

Since 1986, when the NFL began staging preseason games overseas, the league has become more aggressive with promoting its brand globally. And since it began playing regular-season games in London in 2007, the league has gone from playing one, to two, to now, this year, three regular-season contests there.

“The fans want to see more NFL football, and they want to see the real thing,” Goodell said. “They don’t want to see the ‘friendlies’ as they call them over there, which is preseason games. So we changed our strategy eight years ago and said, ‘Let’s play regular season games.’ And our clubs have responded very favorably. They’ve enjoyed the experience. So we’re anxious to do more of it. I see us continuing to play more games there, to focus on our television coverage there and expanding that, our other business efforts including licensing and sponsorship.”

Goodell did not say whether the NFL team that would be based in London would be relocated from an existing league city or an expansion club.

FEWER UNDERCLASSMEN WILL BE ENCOURAGED TO ENTER NFL DRAFT

Last May saw a record 98 underclassmen eligible for the NFL Draft.

That set off an alarm for the league, and, according to Pro Football Talk, the NFL’s College Advisory Committee has revised its policies in an effort to reduce that number.

The committee’s policy used to say that players who projected as third-round picks or later would be advised to remain in school. Now, PFT reports, that advice will be given to players who don’t project as a first- or second-round pick.

The league also plans to limit requests for evaluations of underclassmen to five per college team, but that will be done on a case-by-case basis.

RYAN MATHEWS STILL STRIVING TO FULLY COMPETE FOR THE CHARGERS

Running back Ryan Mathews took a big step last season, playing in all 16 games on the San Diego Chargers’ schedule and rushing for 1,255 yards.

But a sprained ankle limited Mathews in the Chargers’ two playoff games, giving him a new goal for this season: stay healthy until the season ends.

“I played a full season, but I didn’t really get to contribute in the games after the season – the real games when it really counts,” Mathews was quoted as saying on ESPN.com. “That’s my expectation this season. I’ve got to do more and do better, so I can be there with my guys to be able to help them out as much as I can when we get there again.”

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