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Could the blind investment in receiver Charles Johnson pay off this year for the Browns?

Jul 28, 2014 -- 6:00am

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

The Morning Kickoff …

Player-to-watch alert: Charles Johnson, the receiver the Browns signed off the Green Bay practice squad last October only to discover he had a torn ACL, has been a revelation in the first days of training camp.

Physically imposing (6-2 ½, 215), deceptively fast (4.38 40 time) and surprisingly up to speed on the Kyle Shanahan offense, Johnson could be the receiver that comes out of nowhere to lessen the impact of – if not offset -- the impending suspension of Josh Gordon.

“He’s a guy that we hope can emerge from this as a guy that can help us,” said coach Mike Pettine.

When Johnson walks onto the field wearing No. 80 – he traded No. 11 to Travis Benjamin in the spring – he certainly looks the part of a big-play receiver.

But the intrigue of this player stretches beyond his physical appearance.

Johnson participated fully on the Packers’ practice squad well into October despite recurring pain in his left knee and at least one MRI that revealed a slight tear of the anterior cruciate ligament.

I asked him why he did that.

“It wasn’t a pain I couldn’t get through,” he said. “I’ve got people that depend on me, so I’m out there working. The pain is temporary, but quitting is forever. It was hurting sometimes, but once the ball was snapped I couldn’t feel nothing.”

The $6,000 weekly paycheck Johnson received on the Packers’ practice squad meant everything to him. He had two infant daughters and a third on the way to support, and a father battling multiple illnesses.

A leap of faith: “It was crazy,” Johnson said of his rookie season of 2013. “My first year in the NFL, I was plagued with injuries. But it’s nothing I haven’t been through before. I faced a lot of obstacles in my life. I felt God had placed for me another one.

“My dad’s been real ill. I’ve been suspended from a school. I’ve taken a year off (to tend to his father in Kentucky). I’ve been struggling. Kids at a young age. It’s not always easy, but if you can make it through those times it makes you a stronger person.”

Johnson, of Elsmere, KY, originally committed to Louisville. He didn’t qualify early enough and went to Eastern Kentucky. Early as a true freshman, Johnson was kicked off the team when he wouldn’t rat out his roommate, a close high school friend, on the charge of a stolen laptop computer.

Johnson transferred to a community college in California. The next year, his dad became ill and Johnson quit school to be with him. After a year, he enrolled at Grand Valley State, a Division II school in Allendale, MI. In two seasons, Johnson had 128 receptions for 2,129 yards (16.6 average) and 31 touchdowns.

Not invited to the NFL Combine, Johnson turned some heads at a pro day workout arranged by his agent, posting a 40 time of 4.38 and measuring 39 ½ inches in the vertical jump. Some draftniks had him going as high as the third round; Mel Kiper projected him in the fourth round. The Browns worked him out, but their disjointed personnel department a year ago couldn’t arrive at a consensus on Johnson. The Packers selected him in the seventh round.

“I had a pretty good college career,” Johnson said. “I had good numbers at my pro day. People didn’t know about me, but the Packers are known for drafting and building receivers.”

Making up for lost time: Before the Browns knew of Johnson’s torn ACL, they signed him to a three-year contract. Though they received much derision for not knowing of the injury, they were unfazed and felt the investment was sound.

“I’m glad they kept me around,” Johnson said. “They didn’t have to. They could’ve let me go back on the street, go back to Green Bay, but they kept me around. I’m just going to work as hard as I can to get back to full recovery and go back to being me and being able to contribute.”

Through the months of lonely rehab, Johnson formed a bond with Hoyer, who was rehabbing his own ACL surgery. As they both progressed, Johnson was the receiver most frequently catching Hoyer’s passes in the solitude of the empty Browns’ fieldhouse.

“He’s a hard worker,” Hoyer said. “He has size (and) speed for a big guy. I think he gets in and out of routes really well. The other day, I ran a route with him where he had a double move, and for a big guy, for him to get in and out of the break was impressive.

“I think a lot of people are waiting to see what he’s capable of. He’s very smart, he works really hard and as a quarterback, that’s all that you can ask for -- a guy who’s out there trying to learn and trying to go hard.”

Browns GM Ray Farmer was the assistant GM last year and had a voice in signing Johnson.

“The easy things (to point to) are all the recognizables right away, that he’s 6-2 ½, 215 pounds … he ran a 4.38 40,” Farmer said. “Those are the easy pieces, but when you watch the tape you like his hands. You like the fact that he can run the routes, and right now it’s a young man that put a lot of work to recovering from an ACL injury. You can see that he’s big. He’s still fast and he can run routes and catch the football.

“I’m really excited for him to get his opportunity. Everybody now is getting a chance to see what we thought about Charles Johnson live.”

Johnson is not going to replace Gordon. Even if he makes the final roster, odds are against Johnson being an instant contributor. He has too much ground to make up. But other than Gordon, there isn’t a receiver on the roster with his size and speed. And the motivation to take advantage of them.

 

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns GM Ray Farmer praises Brian Hoyer, but not conceding anything in QB derby

Jul 27, 2014 -- 3:12pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

General Manager Ray Farmer, the last member of the Browns’ front office to weigh in publicly, is not dissatisfied with rookie Johnny Manziel.

“I see a young man that came back that appears to be prepared for competition. That’s what we want. We see while he’s in the building he’s putting forth the work to try to be the starter,” Farmer said.

Farmer deferred to comments previously made by Manziel and owner Jimmy Haslam that Manziel made “rookie mistakes” off the field in the month leading up to training camp. But now that Manziel is on the field, “he’s focused, he’s committed on football, he’s doing his thing here in the building and we’re excited about kind of where he’s at at the moment.”

Farmer wouldn’t divulge the tone of conversation he had with Manziel after the Internet captured numerous images of the Johnny Football Vacation Party Tour. Nothing that transpired seems to have fazed Farmer’s confidence in the rookie quarterback taken with the 22nd pick.

“We obviously had a comfort level when we drafted him. If we thought that was an excessive nature of what it would be, then we would have never picked him,” he said.

When the subject turned to Brian Hoyer, Farmer heaped praise on the veteran’s work ethic and professionalism in recovering from October ACL surgery.

“I think Brian’s been phenomenal,” Farmer said. “He’s handled it like a pro. He’s a man’s man. He didn’t cry over spilled milk. He attacked his rehab. He did everything he could to put himself in the best position possible.

“The guy’s a pro. You can see it. One bad day doesn’t make or break it. It’s the consistency that makes you win in the National Football League. It’s the guy that can routinely perform time and time again that you want and Brian’s starting to show that’s what he’s going to do.”

On other subjects, Farmer:

* Declined to shed any light on the possible suspension facing Josh Gordon.

* Defended his receiver situation.

“I like our receiving corps. You want to drive the competition. At the end of the day, there’s some names you recognize and others you won’t recognize. When you get an opportunity, will they play well? Nobody knew Miles Austin until he got his opportunity (as an undrafted free agent with Dallas). That’s what we’re looking for, guys to compete and push Miles Austin (now) to get better.”

* Wouldn’t rule out adding another receiver, or players at any position, for that matter.

“There’s always work to be done. As we look at where we’re going, we’re going to look every position. The great teams, they made transactions and they move on from guys and they improve and they go on. It’s not an indictment on anything other than looking to get better.”

 

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns Training Camp Day 2: Mike Pettine cautions against grading the QB competition day by day

Jul 27, 2014 -- 2:24pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Notes, quotes and observations on Browns training camp Day 2 …

* One day at a time: The coaches don’t get hung up on a daily evaluation of the quarterback competition like the rest of us. And while some believe the first day of Brian Hoyer v. Johnny Manziel was a draw (not me), there was consensus that Hoyer had a much, much better day on Sunday than the rookie challenger. In team drills (which matter most), Hoyer had two plays of note – an accurate deep ball of some 40 yards over Joe Haden and Tashaun Gipson completed to Anthony Armstrong, and then a nice completion over the middle to Armstrong, again, on a quick-play action throw. Manziel had his moments – zip-lining a completion to Miles Austin over the middle after picking up a low snap. But there were more examples of Manziel struggling on his second day, whereas Hoyer clearly advanced. Coach Mike Pettine winced when I asked if Manziel “struggled.” “I don’t know if I want to stand here every day just walking off the field and evaluate the performance,” he said. “Until we watch the tape, look at the grade sheets, kind of know what was asked from him and what were the guys around him doing, I don’t want to get into that habit. Sometimes you think one thing and you get in and watch the tape and your opinion changes completely, so it’s hard to say.” Pettine did indicate Hoyer had a better second practice than his first and attributed it to Hoyer naturally feeling more comfortable back in live action after his long layoff. “I think he’ll only get more comfortable as we go,” Pettine said.

* Must be the shoes: Manziel entered the field wearing a pair of neon lime Nike football cleats that were bright enough to be detected on Doppler radar in Toledo. He wore them through warmups and then changed into a pair of orange cleats early in position drills. Another rookie mistake by Johnny Football? Pettine said players must wear team-issued gear on the field. “(Rookie defensive end) Calvin Barnett came out yesterday and decided to wear Oklahoma State socks. Even though they were Browns orange, that lasted a day,” Pettine said.

* Where’s Pinkston?: The club declined to explain the absence of guard Jason Pinkston from the first two days of camp. Pinkston made a remarkable comeback last year from a blood clot ailment during the 2012 season. He participated in OTAs and minicamp but has not been seen by media here. Pettine opened his daily briefing by saying Pinkston is “unavailable to practice … due to the circumstances I can’t comment on it anymore.” Asked if will be back, Pettine answered, “Possibility,” but declined any further questions. On his Twitter feed, Pinkston wrote, “I can assure you I'm in no legal trouble & retiring hasn't came up. As far as my situation I'll leave it to them to explain”.

* Bitonio back: Joel Bitonio did it in OTAs and now he’s maintained his status as the only rookie getting consistent reps with the first team. He is entrenched at left guard after returning to camp fully healed from a high ankle sprain injury in OTAs. “It worked out well,” said the affable second-round pick from Nevada. “You never want to get injured, but it left plenty of time to recover. I had eight weeks to recover and it’s a 4 to 6 week injury.” The Browns see Bitonio as a force in the Kyle Shanahan zone-blocking scheme. “Shanahan told me, ‘You’re built for this offense.’ I feel like I fit well. You can be athletic, but you still have to master the technique,” Bitonio said.

* Strap it on: Monday marks the first practice with full pads. Players and coaches are looking forward to it. Pettine doesn’t have anything special planned, but intends to have an inside run drill every day in pads. “I want to be able to hear the practice,” he said. “To me, you know when the pads are popping we’re getting after each other. It’s been tough on the offense because it’s advantage-defense when you’re not in pads. That to me is what’s been missing for us so far is to master the physical techniques that we haven’t been able to practice without pads on.”

Brownie bits: Some proven veterans will be on “pitch counts” and receive periodic days off during camp. Left tackle Joe Thomas received his on Sunday … Possibly to help evaluate the inside linebacker competition between Craig Robertson and rookie Chris Kirksey, Karlos Dansby receive some reps on the edge … A couple player skirmishes were quickly snuffed out. One involved cornerback Buster Skrine and receiver Willie Snead. “Everybody’s blood’s boiling. Looking to make plays. Sometimes that happens,” Skrine said. Pettine’s message: “It’s not going to help guys make the team. It’s a bad habit to have at practice. You can say I won’t lose my cool in the game. That’s easy to say, that’s harder to do.” … MarQueis Gray was the only player of five to return after initially failing the conditioning run on Friday. Gray, a tight end last season, worked exclusively as a fullback ... Rookie running back Isaiah Crowell switched to No. 34 from No. 30 ... Fans waited in lines to ride a zip line behind the VIP area. The zip line will not be an every-day feature of camp. Two other appearances are planned in Berea and it will be available at Family Day Aug. 2 at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, said a club official.

 

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns Training Camp Day 1: Brian Hoyer picks up where he left off

Jul 26, 2014 -- 3:32pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Notes, quotes and observations on Browns training camp Day 1 …

* Like riding a bike: It was a momentous occasion for quarterback Brian Hoyer to not only be the undisputed starter on the first day, but also to be back under center in team drills for the first time since his ACL surgery in October. Coaches restricted Hoyer to pistol and shotgun formations in the minicamps and OTAs, but those limitations are now removed. And Hoyer thrived, showing no physical rust or no mental rust. He was sharp with his throws and said afterward it was like “riding a bike,” meaning he never felt the layoff. “Really, the footwork’s just a little bit different as opposed to being in the pistol. I feel I got to my tracks in the run game really well and the play-action passes and dropping back. It’s not something I’m concerned about.” Hoyer said he will most likely wear a brace on his repaired right knee all season (Tom Brady did that in 2009 returning from knee surgery). “I’m not the mobile guy anyways so it doesn’t really affect me that much,” Hoyer said.

* Battle of the fans: Johnny Manziel might be the NFL leader in jersey sales nationwide, but he was clearly No. 2 in the eyes of the announced crowd of 3.702 in attendance. Hoyer, the hometown boy, received a loud ovation when he first entered the field. Manziel’s reception was noticeably quieter. Manziel’s partying exploits in the month leading up to camp probably polarized the fan base. He wasn’t booed, mind you, but Manziel did not receive nearly the reception enjoyed on the night of the draft. “Personally, I’ve had an incredible fan base that’s followed me and really come out of the woodwork here in Cleveland for me,” Manziel maintained. “It’s truly incredible. I’m truly thankful to have those guys, but more than anything, it’s not just my number, my name on the back. It’s Cleveland. It’s the Browns. It’s awesome to have the fan base that we have for this team, not just me. It’s a great turnout today, and I’m sure that won’t stop anytime soon.” Hoyer recognized Cleveland always has a soft spot for local products and is aware his clean-cut image is polar opposite of Manziel’s. But he nailed it when he said, “No one’s going to cheer for a good guy when you’re 4-12. For me, it all comes down to what happens on the field.”

* Pick it up: Five players were put on the non-football injury list and did not practice after failing to pass the conditioning run or exacerbating existing injuries attempting to pass. They were defensive lineman Billy Winn, guard John Greco, nose tackle Phil Taylor, tight end Gary Barnidge and tight end MarQueis Gray. Winn, said a source, suffered a partial tear of a hamstring attempting to make grade. The test involves 20 sprints of varying distances (40, 50 or 60 yards, based on position group). Players have to finish each sprint in a time determined by position group. There are three minutes rest between the sprints. “It’s an area of concern,” said coach Mike Pettine. “We weren’t going to have just an easy conditioning test. I think that’s the price of doing that. I believe in having a tough conditioning test.” Pettine said it may take a week for all the above players to get onto the practice field.

* Good start: Pettine wrapped things up 30 minutes early, which was a rare sight for a first day of camp. “We script a certain amount of plays within the time periods and when we’re not repeating them and the tempo’s good and getting in and out of the huddle, that’ll trim some time off,” Pettine said.

* Brownie bits: Pettine singled out rookie running back Terrance West (three nice catches in 1 on 1 drills) and receiver Miles Austin for having good days … Linebacker Barkevious Mingo was all over the place, much more active in his second camp than as a rookie. Mingo had an interception of an underthrown ball from No. 4 quarterback Connor Shaw and later influenced a Tashaun Gipson interception with pressure on Hoyer. Pettine said Mingo is the “heaviest that he’s ever been” and yet breezed through the conditioning run like a defensive back. Pettine said Mingo’s weight is in the “high 230s,” which, technically, might be just a tad over the 237 he was listed as a rookie. In truth, Mingo does look bigger … Receiver Charles Johnson was all smiles after completing his first team practice since arriving from the Green Bay practice squad in October with a torn left ACL. “It was great to be back out here,” Johnson said. “I want to be the quickest, the fastest, the most aggressive receiver out here.” Johnson has good size at 6-2 and 215.

* Now, that’s passion: Steve Hodge was first in line at the facility’s Beech Street entrance when the gates were opened. Hodge said he drove from Westerville, a suburb of Columbus, overnight and camped out at the gate beginning at 2:30 a.m. Hodge wore a customized orange Browns No. 2 jersey with sparkly green dollar signs pasted on the front and back and Tim Couch’s name replaced with a handmade green Manziel nameplate. “This Couch jersey cost me $260 in 1999, so I thought I’d put it to good use,” Hodge said. Hodge is president of the Westerville Browns Backers Club.

 

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has stern words for WR Josh Gordon and QB Johnny Manziel

Jul 26, 2014 -- 2:30pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Gibbs

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has silently stewed as his star receiver and flamboyant rookie quarterback each had multiple skirmishes off the field in the offseason.

On the first day of training camp, Haslam commented on quarterback Johnny Manziel and receiver Josh Gordon and didn’t mince words.

The day before, Manziel admitted he made “rookie mistakes” during his vacation, which was marked by images of partying and hanging out with celebrities in night clubs and private rooms.

“I think Johnny said it well, he made some rookie mistakes,” Haslam said. “I think the really great athletes make their news on the field, not off the field. And hopefully Johnny can look at guys like LeBron (James), (Tom) Brady, Peyton (Manning) and (Derek) Jeter and pattern himself after those guys who make their news on the field.”

Does Haslam think the message delivered by the Browns has sunk in?

“We’ll see,” he said sternly.

Asked if he was personally disappointed in Johnny Football’s antics prior to arriving in training camp, Haslam said, “Yeah, listen, I don’t want to wear this subject out. Johnny said it himself – he made some mistakes. We expect better from him. I’m sure he’ll perform. Now we’re anxious to see what he can do on the field, which is what really counts.”

Gordon continues to practice – and stand out – while awaiting an appeal hearing Aug. 1 of a reported indefinite suspension for violating the NFL substance abuse policy. Gordon’s offseason worsened when he was arrested for DUI in Raleigh, NC, on July 4 and reportedly checked himself into a substance abuse clinic for a two-week stay prior to camp.

“I’ll say this,” Haslam said, “First and foremost, we care about our players. We want our players to take care of themselves and make good decisions and we’re going to do everything we can to support them. At the same time, the players have to understand the players are accountable to themselves, to their teammates, to the front office and to our fans. People have to understand that and I’ll leave it at that.”

In response to a question, Haslam said releasing Gordon was never an option.

On other issues:

* Pilot Flying J agreed to pay a $92 million settlement over two years to the federal government in the 18-month-old investigation of rebate fraud. The agreement does not immune any company employees from federal prosecution. Ten company employees have pled to reduced charges in exchange for cooperation with the investigation.

“On April 16 (of 2013), we said clearly it looks like some people made some mistakes in our company and it cost all of us dearly,” Haslam said.

He reiterated the company has cooperated fully with the government investigation, implemented systems in the company to assure it never happens again and compensated affected customers wholly.

“So we’re glad to get this chapter behind us and move on,” he said, declining further questions on the matter.

* Haslam stood by his statement of last year that his expectations this season are merely to improve over the course of the 2014 season.

“This is a long process,” he said. “This is a team that has not been very good for a long time. Despite what a lot of people think, we’re actually patient and we think we have the right group in place and we’re going to get better over time.

“I think Ray (Farmer) and Pet (Mike Pettine) and Bill Kuharich did a nice job in the offseason. We probably need another year or two like that to have the kind of roster we need. But in my terminology, we’re directionally correct.”

 

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

As Browns QB battle begins, Johnny Manziel admits to 'rookie mistakes' and Brian Hoyer vows to keep starting job

Jul 25, 2014 -- 8:20pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

A contrite Johnny Manziel said on the first official day of his professional career that he has to learn how to be a better professional.

“At the end of the day, I’ve made some rookie mistakes,” Manziel said in an opening comment before taking questions from reporters. “There are some things I wish I could have gone back and have done a little differently, but continuing to move forward, I’ll try to represent this organization and this team in a positive manner, in a positive light.”

Given Manziel’s defiant pledge to “not change for anybody” at the NFL Rookie Symposium in June, this was the right tone for the rookie to strike. Of course, it came after Manziel’s vacation antics landed him in the offices of, as he termed it, “the higher-ups.”

“I’ll just save you guys a lot of time,” Manziel said after taking the podium following appearances by coach Mike Pettine and Brian Hoyer. “Me and Coach Pettine and (GM) Ray Farmer have talked about a lot of things that transpired over the course of the offseason. For me, my main thing is, people within this building, my teammates, the coaching staff, the higher-ups in this organization, we’ve all been on the same page. We’ve all been good. And (I’m) very eager to be moving forward.”

The defining incident in Manziel’s summer was the photo of him rolling a dollar bill in the rest room of a night club in Austin, TX – an act that is associated with drug use. When Pettine and others with the Browns saw the image on the Internet, calls were made and meetings were had.

“I’ve talked about that with Coach Pettine,” Manziel said. “I’ve talked about it with Ray Farmer and the people that I need to talk about it with. Moving forward, they’re good with everything and I’ve told them everything I need to and everything’s been good.”

When the Browns departed their minicamp in June, the impression was that Manziel would share some percentage of snaps with the first-team offense from the start of their competition in training camp.

But on Wednesday, Pettine first disclosed to ESPNCleveland.com that that would not be the case, that Hoyer was “the one” and that coaches would evaluate Manziel’s grasp of the playbook over the first four days of practices. The message was that Manziel had to earn first-team reps. Even his presumed starting assignment in the second preseason game was off the table – something to be determined.

Asked if his vacation frolics put him further behind Hoyer, Manziel answered, “I don’t believe so.

“I think there are definitely things I can do moving forward to act better as a professional. At the same time, I’m still learning how to do that, still getting used to this league. I’m not in college anymore. There’s things I need to do better. Hopefully as time goes on I will be doing that.”

At the same time Manziel was, well, being Johnny Football, Hoyer was spending some of his vacation time with his family in Florida but also “quite a bit” in the Browns’ facility to prepare for what he considers a dream opportunity to be the starting quarterback of his hometown team. Hoyer lives in Avon Lake with his wife and two small children.

Hoyer sloughed off a question about Manziel’s partying by saying, “What people do when they leave this building, that’s up to them.”

Given the opportunity to describe his determination to secure the starting job, Hoyer said, “Obviously the competition will bring out the best player in me. But I also think the thing that drives me the most is my goal of being the starting quarterback for this team.

“I think for the most part, I’m competing with myself. That’s what drives me to be the best player I can. To have just a taste of it last year and have it ripped away makes you realize how much you love the game and how much it means to you … to have something taken away from you like that, especially when you’ve waited for an opportunity for a long time. It drove me for the past nine months and it will continue to drive me.”

Hoyer reiterated that he wants “the best quarterback to play,” and that he is confident that he will be that guy.

“But I know if it comes down to the fact that Johnny does beat me out, I know I will have given everything I can and he will have totally earned it.”

And so it starts Saturday morning on the practice field.

"I know we’ve had a long offseason of a lot of these other issues, but now is the time for football,” Pettine said.

Brownie Bits: Tight end Gary Barnidge and nose tackle Phil Taylor did not finish the last of 10 50-yard wind sprints in the team’s conditioning test. Safety Donte Whitner somersaulted to make time at the end of his last run and then was assisted off the field by a trainer. Pettine said “a few” players will have to take the test again Saturday morning … As expected, receiver Josh Gordon reported with the veterans and did pass the conditioning test. Gordon will be an active participant until his appeal of an imminent NFL drug suspension is heard on Aug. 1 … Pettine declined to comment about reports that Gordon checked himself into a two-week rehab in a California clinic after his recent DUI arrest.

 

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 tgrossi@goodkarmabrands.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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