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Where's Johnny? At Browns OTAs, he's No. 3

May 21, 2014 -- 3:23pm

By Tony Grossi |


Photo/Cleveland Browns

Notes, quotes and observations from the Browns’ OTA practice …

Johnny update: The order of the quarterbacks in the early drills was 1. Brian Hoyer, 2. Tyler Thigpen, 3. Johnny Manziel.

“It’s just tough for him now in his infant stages where he’s just trying to learn the (play) book,” said coach Mike Pettine. “It’s hard to even take reps. He’s just coming off a rookie install and basically a week of meetings. It’s tough for guys really to shine early when they have a lot on their plate.”

When Hoyer sat out some of the team drills requiring the quarterback stay under center, Thigpen was first and Manziel second. Connor Shaw followed in all drills.

Manziel displayed a quick release on short passes, but also showed some inconsistent mechanics and release points. No worries, said Pettine.

“Like any other rookie, it’s just inconsistent,” he said. “I think a lot of it’s the mental part of it. He’s more worrying about getting the formation right, making sure the motion’s correct, the cadence, and then he’s got to worry about where guys are.

“Being good mechanically kind of takes a backseat to learning the system first, and I think you’ll see over the maturation process, he’ll be a lot more comfortable. I think he flashed some things today that made him kind of who he is, the ability to make plays on his feet.”

There has been some hue and cry about the Browns intending to suppress Manziel’s play-making ability with his feet and discouraging him from improvising. Not true, said Pettine.

“First of all, I don’t think we’ve ever said we don’t want him running around. We’re going to put him in situations where he can execute an offense that will give us the best chance to win,” Pettine said.

“We’re going to take advantage of his mobility. You don’t take a guy that’s made a living being a mobile quarterback and tell him all of a sudden he has to be a statue. When he’s in there, and we have actually things set for him in a game plan, there’ll be things to take advantage of things he can do with his feet.”

Manziel was not made available to media.

Hoyer update:Almost seven months after ACL surgery on his right knee, Hoyer keeps pressing coaches and trainers to let him do more on the field. He was held out of some 11 on 11 team drills as a precaution against having a defensive player knock against him.

But near the end of the one-hour, 45-minute practice outdoors, Hoyer did participate in team drills when in the pistol or shotgun formation.

“He’s not cleared to do anything under center because we don’t want guys around his legs,” Pettine said. “So that’s why we kind of simulated a pass rush there and kept guys away from him. But we wanted to still get him the feel of being in the huddle, making the call, going 11 against 11, reading a full defense. So we’ll try to get as many as those reps as we can.”

Hoyer knows he’s in a competition with Manziel, however.

“At some point they might get a restraining order against me,” Hoyer said. “I’m texting them all, asking them all the time. I’m going to press to the fullest and they can hold me back. That’s their call. I’m going to make sure they know I’m ready to go.”

Hoyer’s take on Pettine’s comments that he doesn’t want a “warm and fuzzy” competition between the quarterbacks:

“I was thinking of sending (Manziel) a birthday card,” he joked.

“No, I totally get it. When you are competing for the same job, it’s not like a receiver or not like an O-lineman. There’s only one guy out there. I wouldn’t put too much into it. I don’t think we’re in there not being friendly. But I do think when you’re kind of gunning for the same thing, there is a little bit of an edge to it.”

Brownie bits: Defensive end Ahtyba Rubin was absent with an undisclosed minor injury. Pettine wouldn’t elaborate. “He’s got something. I’m not going to get into details. The NFL wants us to report on injuries that we consider serious. To me, serious is something that would cause him to miss the start of training camp. It falls into that category,” he said … Other players who did not participate for one reason or another: Defensive ends Desmond Bryant and Armonty Bryant, receiver Miles Austin, receiver Charles Johnson, receiver Travis Benjamin, and running back Isaiah Crowell … Offensive lineman Paul McQuistan was excused to join his former Seattle teammates at the celebration of their Super Bowl victory at the White House … Rookie Joel Bitonio lined up with the first team at left guard with John Greco at right guard … A rare OTA melee was averted after offensive lineman Garrett Gilkey pried the helmet off defensive lineman Calvin Barnett and tossed it to the ground. Gilkey, by the way, received a lot of snaps at center with the backup units … Rookie cornerback Justin Gilbert lined up with the second unit.

Gordon update: With no update from the NFL on a possible suspension of Josh Gordon, the receiver was quite active during the session.

“For us, until we’re told otherwise, it’s business as usual,” Pettine said.

“This is my first real time getting a chance to work with Josh. It’s been good to kind of get on the same page with him,” said Hoyer.

Gordon was not made available to media.


Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi




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