Donte Whitner: Locker room is split 50-50 between Manziel, Hoyer

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It seems that based on one solid-but-not-spectacular performance in a preseason game, the reputation of Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel has risen substantially.

There was the almost immediate report that Manziel had pulled ahead of Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback job, and though coach Mike Pettine was quick to say that the report was erroneous, the new tributary on this long offseason river of speculation has already been well-traversed.

Pettine has said he wants to make a decision on his starter before the team's third preseason game -- meaning we should get some real clarity before Aug. 23 -- but for now, the locker room seems to be split as to which quarterback should take over the team.

“It’s been fierce,” Browns safety Donte Whitner told “Two guys fighting for their lives. It’s close. I’d say [the locker room] is split about 50-50. We know they both can play.”

The storyline all offseason was that Hoyer was far ahead of Manziel, and that made sense because of the professional experience factor and because Hoyer looked so good when he played last season. But in reality he's not a former Heisman Trophy winner who was a first-round draft pick. He's likely not the franchise quarterback.

No, those titles belong to Manziel right now, and it seems only a matter of time before he's the one who's starting.

Perhaps it'll happen as soon as next week.

"He’s earning his keep so far," Whitner said. "He’s not asking for any privileges. He’s just a rookie, and he’s acting like one. When we have the rookie show, he’ll sing just like the rest of them. As far as football goes, I’m seeing him put the ball on the money like a veteran. Sometimes the receiver drops it. Sometimes the receiver isn’t even looking for the ball and it bounces off him. He’s got the confidence a quarterback has to have.”

Right now, the Cleveland locker room is split '50-50' between these two. (USATSI)
Right now, the Cleveland locker room is split '50-50' between these two. (USATSI)
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