Manziel and Hoyer going back and forth with reps
CLEVELAND – It’s now becoming a game of musical chairs as quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel share repetitions with the first-team offense.
Hoyer received exclusive time with the first unit in the first seven practices. Manziel had a full day with the group Monday and opened Tuesday’s session with the first team, but Hoyer ended up getting most of the reps with the ones.
It’s all part of the plan that coach Mike Pettine has worked out carefully with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. As of the end of practice Pettine hadn’t committed to a starter for the preseason opener Saturday against the Detroit Lions, although it appears that Hoyer will get the call.
The added spice to the competition appeared to bring out the best in both quarterbacks. Hoyer was sharp throughout the session. Manziel had his best day of camp, including a 60-yard pass that was dropped by receiver Travis Benjamin.
For the first time since camp opened the offense played on par with the defense.
“This is a stretch of camp where you’re tired of going against each other,” Pettine said. “Everybody is sore. Everybody has something going on. We’ve been urging our guys to push through it. We have to get better. We just can’t put days in and coast and start looking forward to the preseason games.”
Hoyer was listed as first on the initial depth chart of camp. Asked if he thought about listing Hoyer and Manziel as co-starters, Pettine said that he did.
NOT HIS IDEA: Coaches are required by the NFL to include a depth chart with the press release prior to the first preseason game. Pettine wasn’t pleased he had to do it because the process is fluid.
There were no surprises. Ahtyba Rubin is listed first at nose tackle ahead of Phil Taylor. The other first-team defensive linemen are ends Billy Winn and Desmond Bryant. Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo top the outside linebacker spots ahead of Jabaal Sheard. Buster Skrine remains ahead of first-round pick Justin Gilbert at right cornerback.
HIGH PRAISE: Gilbert’s confidence and level of play grow each day. Defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley can’t help but take notice.
“If you make up a corner in a video game, that’s what you want him to look like,” Hafley said.
A DILEMMA: Until a decision is made on Josh Gordon’s appeal of a suspension, the Browns face the task of balancing his repetitions while not taking important reps away from a player that may receive more time in the season if Gordon is suspended.
“There are an abundance of reps,” receivers coach Mike McDaniel said. “You’re walking a fine line working people without trying to overwork them. He fits fluidly in that process because guys do need rest anyway.”
CAMPING OUT: A typical Manziel pass came when he rolled to his right and then threw across his body deep down the field for a completion to Miles Austin. Manziel completed three straight passes to Austin, Gordon and Taylor Gabriel during an 11-on-11 drill. Tight ends Jordan Cameron and Jim Dray were on stationary bikes. Forgotten cornerback Leon McFadden intercepted quarterback Tyler Thigpen and took it in for a touchdown. McFadden needs more plays like that to earn a roster spot at what has become a deep position. The defensive backs have been wearing small sparring gloves to get used to a new rule that will limit contact with receivers after 5 yards. Officials have warned coaches that restriction penalties will be called in excess in preseason games.