Paul Kruger on Browns QBs: 'In my mind, Brian Hoyer is the guy'

By Ryan Wilson | CBSSports.com

Brian Hoyer, not Johnny Manziel, is 'the guy,' according to Paul Kruger. (USATSI)
Brian Hoyer, not Johnny Manziel, is 'the guy,' according to Paul Kruger. (USATSI)

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Expect to get a lot this between now and, well, whenever Johnny Manziel is officially named the Browns starter. We saw it with Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton back in 2011, and we suspect everyone will be asked their thoughts on whether veteran Brian Hoyer deserves to start, or if Johnny Football gives the Browns the best chance to win now.

Which brings us to linebacker Paul Kruger, who had the question put to him in a recent interview with WISW-AM.

"In my mind, Hoyer's the guy," Kruger said (via NFL.com). "Hoyer came in, won us four games, unfortunately got hurt. The guy was on fire when he was healthy and he's proven himself at a different level and has worked extremely hard."

For the record, Hoyer started three games before an ACL injury ended his 2013 season but the point remains; he did something that Brandon Weeden could not: give the Browns -- and their fans -- hope that winning was, in fact, possible.

"You let the preseason go, see how they look and then make a decision," Kruger continued. "In my mind, Hoyer has been a good leader for us and somebody who has been able to win us a few games. It's tough to say but I think the preseason will be a big deal for both of them."

It's a fair point. And first-year coach Mike Pettine said last week that Hoyer is "securely ahead" when it comes to earning the job. Of course, Pettine added that Hoyer's lead wasn't "insurmountable." Put another way (in our mind, at least): Manziel isn't the starter now but a lot can change between now and Week 1.

(Worth pointing out: The Browns begin the season with games against the Steelers, Saints and Ravens before a Week 4 bye. If the team limps to an 0-3 start with Hoyer then you know how this will play out.)

Pettine said any quarterback competition won't take place until training camp next month.

"We haven't really been in the mode of thinking, 'He's this far ahead today. How much was the gap closed?''' the coach said last week. "They're still learning the basics of the offense. The rookies haven't been here very long. They're playing catchup from a playbook standpoint. So at this point, we really weren't keeping score. We'll be much more apt to do that once we get to training camp.''

Kruger, meanwhile, echoes what most of his coaches and teammates must already be feeling.

"I'm a little tired of hearing about him," he said. "It hasn't been a distraction, it really hasn't. It brings some excitement."

Right or wrong, this won't let up until Manziel gets on the field.

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