Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine named Brian Hoyer the team's starting quarterback for Saturday's preseason game against the Lions.
"I think Brian is starting to feel very comfortable in the pocket," said Pettine. "I think he's feeling more confident."
Pettine reiterated Hoyer was the number one quarterback coming into training camp, and even though Duke Johnson Jr. has been working with the first team, Hoyer has done nothing to have the starting spot taken away from him, yet.
The one thing that's remained steady during the Browns' quarterback competition? Hoyer's even keeled attitude and approach towards preparation.
"It doesn't change my mindset," Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday. "I've expected it all along. You just go about your approach the same way every day. If you go about it like you are trying to be the best quarterback for this team, regardless of where you are [in the depth chart], things will work themselves out."
There was a moment in practice two days ago that served as a reinforcement test for Hoyer's recovery from ACL surgery. Linebacker Paul Kruger lunged towards the quarterback's lower half and accidentally came into contact with Hoyer's knee.
"It was more scary than anything else," said Hoyer about the hit on his knee. "I kind of went down and waited for there to be some pain and there wasn't. So it was actually kind of good to have some confidence going into Saturday knowing I've actually taken a real hit."
For those who have attended each one of the Browns' training camp sessions, the improvement this week alone has been night and day for Johnny Manziel. The quarterback seems to have come out of his shell in terms of his well-known playmaking abilities. It's not just scrambling either. It's been Manziel's fastball delivery from under center that has given the defense fits the last two days.
"I think we all see what Manziel can do," said Pettine. "He can make plays with his feet, but he's been probably better than we thought from in the pocket as well."
More importantly, Manziel's grasp of the playbook, and pace of the offense, has clearly improved.
"Really I just need to keep learning the playbook and hopefully in due time I'll be able to be comfortable with a lot broader region of the playbook instead of the little area that I am now," said Manziel. "It's steadily growing every day. And that's what I need to continue to do: get better, expand my knowledge of the playbook and expand my knowledge of this game."
The Browns have not yet ruled out using Manziel later in the first quarter against the Lions, to get some repetitions with the starting unit. The coaching staff is still currently constructing the plan for how each unit will handle substitutions.
Pettine also reiterated he wants all starters to be named before the third preseason game, so that each unit can start the gelling process. The Browns plan to rest most of their starters during the fourth preseason game.
News and nuggets
- On the final play of practice, Manziel and the first team offense were inside the five yard line trying to score a touchdown. The quarterback launched a pass towards tight end Jim Dray that looked like it should've been a touchdown. But out of nowhere, rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey broke up the pass. Pettine and the Browns knew Kirksey was excellent in coverage when they drafted him, but each practice the Iowa alum continues to receive rave reviews.
- "If you were an observer at practice and didn't have a roster, you wouldn't think he was a rookie," said Pettine of Kirksey. "He's great on the practice field, he asks the right questions. He's been very engaging in the meeting rooms. He really leans on Karlos [Dansby] as a good resource. He's been a guy that's been as advertised."
- Pettine said that the Browns first and second strings will be getting an ample amount of playing time Saturday in Detroit – the reason being, brand new systems on offense and defense.
- "It's the first time we're going against somebody else," said Pettine. "You want to walk that fine line between potentially putting guys at risk but I think that's the price you pay. There's no substitute for live game reps against somebody else. That's the best tape to evaluate. Above the average."
- Wide receiver Josh Gordon will be mixed in with first and second team units, and may even see playing time in the second half.
- Tight end Jordan Cameron has been ruled out for the Lions game with an AC joint injury to his shoulder. Wednesday was a scheduled off day for Travis Benjamin.