- When Brian Hoyer tore his ACL last season against the Buffalo Bills (then Mike Pettine's team), the current Browns head coach felt compelled to reach out to Hoyer. Pettine penned a handwritten letter for the quarterback wishing him a speedy recovery.
- "It was a good story – a guy who had been under the radar with some teams and finally got his chance in his hometown and was doing well," said Pettine. "[The Bills] had a lot of respect for him – respect for the way he had prepared him and taken the job and how he had played in those two games leading up to ours. That was just something where after it happened…I know it happened when [Bills LB] Kiko Alonso hit him. That was our player, and when we watched the tape, it was obvious that it was just a bad combination of circumstances that he got hit kind of in an awkward slide. I just felt for the kid and picked up a pen and dropped a note."
- Pettine, more-so than most NFL coaches, requests comments and criticism from his players about the game plan. Pettine has drawn up defensive game plans that look fantastic on the dry-erase board, but sometimes they just don't feel comfortable in practice. If enough players aren't feeling a certain play design, the Browns won't hesitate to scrap it.
- "We always talk," said Pettine. "We want the feedback. We want there to be a two-way street with the game plan. If there's something at the end of the week that we don't feel comfortable with, we want guys to bring it up – what they like, what they don't like."
Two Browns players have already been ruled out against the Steelers: offensive lineman Paul McQuistan (ankle) and defensive lineman John Hughes (hamstring). Additionally, defensive lineman Desmond Bryant (wrist) will be listed as doubtful. * McQuistan's injury means the Browns will likely carry seven offensive linemen into the game. The Hughes injury is a tad disappointing because of how solid he looked against the run. But it also means more repetitions for Armonty Bryant and Phil Taylor. * Duke Johnson Jr. addressed reporters in the locker room setting for the first time in his career. Manziel noted the film study has really increased this week, now that the regular season has arrived. From watching the Steelers on tape, Manziel noted he saw things in their defense that he's never seen before at the college level. But at the end of the day, he's not letting the nuances of professional football weigh him down. * "It's football," said Manziel. "I mean, you throw a pigskin with laces on it and you against defenses that run coverages. But at the same time, Pittsburgh, you look at what they are doing, their defense has been doing this for a lot of years with a lot of the same guys and they are extremely, extremely talented. " * Now that Manziel is the backup, practice is obviously much more different. He's seeing fewer repetitions. So from the sidelines on Sunday, things will be all mental for Manziel. If he sees something from his perspective that will help Brian Hoyer, he'll tell him. The rookie actually does have experience reacting to the game from this angle. He redshirted his first season at Texas A&M. * "Every snap that goes on during the game, I need to be processing as well," said Manziel. "Listening to the [play call] in the headset just like I did my freshman year when I wasn't playing at [Texas] A&M, watching Ryan Tannehill and trying to help him by being another set of eyes." * We had an extensive one-on-one interview with Brian Hoyer, which will be posted Sunday morning before the game.