Browns coach: It's 'possible' Manziel starts vs. Redskins on Aug. 18
So here's what we know: Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer will start Saturday's preseason game against the Lions. But beyond that, who knows.
Rookie first-rounder Johnny Manziel took first-team reps earlier this week but coach Mike Pettine warned not to read too much into it; having both quarterbacks work with the first unit was the plan all along. But could we see Manziel under center when the Browns take the field on Aug. 18 against the Redskins in their second preseason game?
"That's possible,'' Pettine conceded, via the Cleveland Plain Dealer, before adding: "That seems like about a month away.''
If that happens, Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan should know enough to make an informed decision about who will be the team's starter heading into the regular season. The coach has previously stated that he'd like to have it settled by the third preseason game on Aug. 23.
"That's the plan,'' Pettine said. "I'd like (to) have starters in place at all positions (by then). I've always been a part of, and more than likely will be here, resting most of the guys in the fourth game, so that third game is critical to get that chemistry and cohesion. We've mixed the lineups a lot, which is good because you're getting guys exposure. At some point, you've got to settle down and develop that chemistry, that cohesion.''
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau thinks Manziel will be under center when the two teams meet in the regular-season opener but Pettine obviously hasn't gotten that far in the evaluation process. That said, he likes what he's seen from both Hoyer and Johnny Football.
"They're both doing a great job of playing to their skill sets,'' Pettine said. "It's obviously very different, what they bring to the table. I think Brian's starting to feel very comfortable in the pocket. ...and then, I think we all see what Manziel can do. He makes plays with his feet, but he's been probably better than we thought from in the pocket as well.''
As we've mentioned at various points in recent weeks, wherever you come down on the "start him or sit him" debate, this is a near certainty: Should the Browns stumble out of the gate -- 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.
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