Brian Hoyer ready to support Johnny Manziel, play if needed


Hold off on the care packages and sympathy cards.

Brian Hoyer's not interested, not while the Browns are still in the thick of an AFC Playoff race and not when he's one play away from returning as the team's starting quarterback.

The veteran who led Cleveland to the thick of the AFC playoff race lost his job Tuesday when coach Mike Pettine announced rookie Duke Johnson Jr. would start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals. After 13 games atop the depth chart, Hoyer will be the backup in a game the Browns absolutely must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Understandably, Hoyer expressed disappointment with Pettine's decision. There just wasn't any moping.

"I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me," Hoyer said. "I got to live out a childhood dream, and it's not over. There's still a chance that I do play for this team. I'm proud of what we accomplished when I played quarterback for this team, and you never know what's going to happen."

Hoyer repeatedly vowed his full support behind Manziel. He maintained he'd be ready to play because, as he experienced in his vault from third-string to starter last season, anything can happen.

"My main thing now is doing whatever I can to help this team win," Hoyer said. "Whether it's giving a good look on the scout team or helping Johnny prepare and if he sees something he's not sure about and comes ask me, that's what my job is to do. That's just my concern at this moment."

Though Pettine said the decision was made in relatively quick fashion after Monday's press conference, delivering the news to the Cleveland native was a whole different story. It's the "negative part of the business," Pettine said, but it had to be done after watching the offense struggle to put up points and first downs in the past four games.

Pettine wouldn't commit to saying Hoyer has taken his last snap for the Browns. Three games is an eternity in the NFL.

"I certainly could envision a scenario where we go back," Pettine said. "I don't understand when some people say that's a true one-way street. We don't know the results. I hate to deal in hypotheticals with the negative, but I wouldn't want to go on record saying we've seen the last of him."

Hoyer, who led Cleveland to three wins in three games before going down with a knee injury last season, won the job midway through the preseason and started his sixth NFL season strong. Through nine games, the Browns were 6-3 and Hoyer was completing 59 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.

That's what made the past four games even tougher to stomach. Hoyer threw one touchdown and eight interceptions in a stretch that saw the Browns lose three times while the defense played its best football of the season.

Pettine called the NFL a "what have you done for me lately" business, and Hoyer, who spent his first four seasons as a backup with New England and Arizona, has plenty of experience with the league's highs and lows.

"Anybody's who is in this league at this position wants to play," Hoyer said. "Now having played for 13 games plus three last year, I know what it takes to play in this league.

"For me, it's just about getting through each day and if Johnny has a question for me, answer it and help him out. If the defense wants me to do a certain look out there, that's my job and that's what I'm here to do."

Unprompted as he answered his first question Wednesday, Hoyer said it was a "misconception" that he and Manziel had any sort of conflict as they competed for the starting job. He said they both laughed at that portrayal as it unfolded outside of the locker room.

Manziel said the two have a "great relationship" and anticipates to have Hoyer's full support as he makes his NFL starting debut.

"We're teammates. We're not enemies," Manziel said. "There's nothing like that, so I feel he's fully behind me. He's obviously disappointed, but I'm sure it's obviously a little bit of the same feeling that I've had throughout the course of the year. Brian has handled it like the professional that he is, and mine and his relationship, I mean, we're teammates. We look out for each other, and he's done that for me and vice versa."

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