By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Notes, quotes and observations from Browns training camp Day 10 …
* Hoyer starting, but …: Coach Mike Pettine made it official and named Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback for the lid-lifter Saturday in Detroit. “It was his job. He was the one coming into it. He’s done nothing to have that taken away from him,” Pettine said. But … and this is a huge but … Johnny Manziel added another strong practice to add to a revelatory week of practice. Manziel practiced mostly with the first team again (second time this week) and added to his momentum. One particular throw stood out – a deep sideline out to Andrew Hawkins that traveled about 30 yards and was right on the mark between cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Jim Leonhard. Asked to assess his week, Manziel said, “Better … better. Just getting out there with a lot less clutter. We’re into a couple weeks now. It feels a lot more comfortable. There’s still a long ways for me to go, obviously.” Pettine wouldn’t elaborate on play time, but did reiterate that he intends to keep his first team in longer than perhaps usual for a first preseason game. “You want to walk that fine line between potentially putting guys at risk, but I think that’s the price you pay. There’s no substitute for live game reps against somebody else. And that’s the best tape to evaluate,” he said. Pettine said “it’s a possibility” that Manziel will get at least one series with the first-teamers, but he won’t decide for sure until meetings Wednesday night. (Read more on Manziel’s progress and the quarterback competition Thursday morning on ESPNCleveland.com.)
* Now it can be told: Unbeknownst to many watching from afar, Hoyer took a shot to his repaired right knee during Tuesday’s practice. It held up fine, but Pettine called it a “heart skip-a-beat moment.” Hoyer said things got “scuttled up” in front of him and Paul Kruger fell on his knee. “It was more scary than anything else,” Hoyer said. “I went down and there wasn’t any pain. So it was actually kind of good to have some confidence going into Saturday knowing I actually have taken a real hit. The brace withstood the hit and my knee felt good.” Hoyer said there was no need for treatment after practice. Still, it raised the issue of whether Hoyer had thought of taking a day off. “Can’t afford it,” he said. “That’s what we’re here for is to play football. I really don’t feel I need it. I feel fine. We have a break in between (practice) and our meetings and I take full advantage of that. I feel really good.” Pettine has given receivers Travis Benjamin and Charles Johnson days off as they recover from ACL surgeries, but the coach said they do a lot more running in a typical practice than Hoyer.
* About those wordy play-calls: Some of coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s play-calls can stretch 15 to 18 words. While trend-setting Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly sometimes flashes in plays from the sideline with one word on a card, excessive verbiage would seem to be an archaic way of running an offense in today’s NFL. “It all just matters how people learn it,” Hoyer said. “Sometimes a short call can be hard, too, because when it’s one word, everybody has to know what the word means, and that’s a protection, a run, a pattern … To me, I like when you call it out because it really eliminates all errors. Sometimes those one-word calls, if one guy messes up because he thinks the wrong thing … it only takes one guy to mess up.” Hoyer said the Patriots had some play-calls 15 words long when he played for them. Manziel laughed when I asked if 18-word calls are necessary. “I know we sit in the quarterback room and we kind of joke about some of the play-calls being a little longer,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to sit back and digest it all and it can take time off the play clock. But the thing I’ve learned once you do that in the second week after you’ve done it the opening day and you do it again and again and again, then you’re like, boom, you hear one thing and it kind of all flows together, which is nicer. The more time I’m in this the better it is for me.”
* Incoming: The Browns added four players to the bottom of their roster – tight end Kyle Auffray, linebacker Keith Pough, receiver Tim Smith and tight end Martel Webb. Each was undrafted and all but Smith have been in a previous NFL camp. “Ray’s staying busy,” Pettine said of GM Ray Farmer. “He’s not just bunkering in until next year’s draft. He’s going to work the roster and is constantly looking.”
* Brownie bits: The defense claimed the competition period again (fourth time in five days) by stopping a red zone drive at the end. On the last play, linebacker Chris Kirksey poked away Manziel’s pass intended for tight end Jim Dray just inside the goal line. Manziel faulted himself for forcing the ball and not throwing for a receiver deeper in the end zone who looked open … Despite Manziel’s good day, the practice overall was ragged, as the dog days took hold of much of the team. Hoyer had one bad snap exchange with backup center Jeremiah Warren and also a handoff to running back Terrance West was botched. Hoyer said, “Today we kind of took a step back as a team. We need to come out with a better sense of urgency.”
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
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 hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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