Mike Pettine liked a lot of what he accomplished at his first training camp and will implement the same strategies this year, but there will be one major difference he plans to enjoy.
Though the Browns head coach is reluctant to name a starter for the Sept. 13 season opener against the New York Jets, he openly admits the team's quarterback competition will have a different look to it. Instead of the wide-open, split-the-reps battle of 2014, the Browns will continue to use veteran Josh McCown exclusively with the first-team offense while Johnny Manziel works with the twos.
"There's no substitute for reps, reps together," Pettine said. "You can put a group of really good players together but it will take some time before they start to know where he's going to be ... It takes some time to build that cohesion and chemistry."
That sort of chemistry and cohesion will prove to be pivotal for an offense, led by first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, that will have competition dictating potential changes on the offensive line, running back, tight end and wide receiver.
Pettine doesn't regret how he split the repetitions between Brian Hoyer and Manziel in a competition Hoyer ultimately won after the third preseason game last year. The circumstances -- Hoyer coming off a serious knee injury, Manziel coming straight off a star-studded two-year run at Texas A&M -- dictated the process.
The circumstances behind this year's decision center on the immediate impact and stability McCown has provided from Day 1 since he signed with the Browns. Pettine cited McCown's overall experience in the NFL along with his knowledge and ability to comprehend DeFilippo's system as the reasons why the veteran was "that much further ahead" than Manziel entering training camp, which begins Thursday.
"Just the presence he's brought into that quarterback room, and not just the quarterback room, but how that's spread to the offense and how he's been able to interact with the coaching staff and relate with the rest of the guys in the room," Pettine said. "I couldn't be more pleased with what he's brought to the table. We want to do everything we can to make him successful."
Therein lies why the door hasn't been shut on Manziel, who spent the final week of his vacation working with former NFL coach Jon Gruden in Tampa and drew praise from Pettine for how he handled his time away from the Browns facility.
Pettine has lauded Manziel since he rejoined the team in April and said he made "positive steps" during the team's 10 OTAs and three-day mini-camp.
"I would say he did a heck of a lot more good things in the spring than he did bad things," Pettine said. "I think we'll see that improvement and hopefully see that improvement from all of the quarterbacks."
Essentially, the quarterback will be treated like all of the other positions on the roster, Pettine said. There will be players who start camp receiving all of the first-team repetitions, and they'll remain in those spots if they continue to be the best possible option. The starting lineups Cleveland is likely to use against the Jets will start to take real shape during the second and third preseason games, Pettine said.
"For us, it's all about winning," Pettine said. "There's no other agenda here. It's what 11 players we put on the field that gives us the best opportunity to be successful."