First-year coach Mike Pettine may have said several times in recent days that Brian Hoyer will be the starting quarterback when Browns face the Lions in Saturday's preseason game, but Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau expects rookie Johnny Manziel to be under center when Cleveland and Pittsburgh meet in the regular-season opener on Sept. 7.
"I am (expecting to see Manziel)," LeBeau told SteelCityInsider.net's Jim Wexell. " If he's not, we'll play the other guy. I'm going to take a good look at him. Let's put it that way."
When asked why he thinks Manziel will play, LeBeau offered this: "He impressed me with his college career. He makes plays, and he was playing against some real talented athletes in that conference on defense, too. What I could see they were getting up there around 45, 50 points a game, so your quarterback's gotta be doing something right. And he can keep the play alive. I'm not a coach in Cleveland, and I don't know what they're going to do, I'm just telling you what I'm doing."
Meanwhile, reports out of Browns camp are that Johnny Manziel, despite the off-field stuff, is quiet and studious, but doesn't seem nearly dynamic in training camp as he did in college (which, frankly, makes sense; he's a rookie and the SEC isn't the same as the NFL).
"I haven't seen anything that makes me go, 'Wow,' " one player told Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman.
Whatever the feelings about Manziel, either inside or outside the organization, this much is certain: If the Browns stumble out of the gate -- and they face the Steelers, Saints and Ravens to open the season before a Week 4 bye -- it's fair to think that Manziel will be the starter when the team returns to action in Week 5. Assuming it doesn't happen before then.