BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- The Cleveland Browns' quarterback derby is heading down the homestretch.
Coach Mike Pettine said Sunday he plans to name his starting
quarterback shortly after the team's Aug. 18 preseason game in
The winner of the competition between Brian Hoyer and rookie Johnny
Manziel will start Cleveland's third preseason contest -- Aug. 23 at
home against the Rams -- and sit out its final game Aug. 28 against
"I wouldn't say it's 1,000 percent etched in stone, but I would like
it decided before the third preseason game," Pettine said. "If we have a
starter that gets a lot of time in that game, then has all the practice
time after that, we feel like he'll be ready to go for the opener
(Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh)."
Hoyer tops the Browns' official depth chart, but he will split
first-team snaps with 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Manziel at training
camp this week.
Pettine declined to say which player would start Cleveland's next
preseason game, a nationally televised matchup with the Redskins,
calling the battle "too close to call."
"If there was a clear-cut favorite at this point, it would probably
mean one of them was not playing well," the first-year coach said.
"That's not the case here. I think we've got two guys that could be
full-time NFL starters. It will all come down to who gives us the best
chance to win. That's the bottom line."
Hoyer, who is recovering from reconstructive right knee surgery,
started the Browns' preseason opener Saturday in Detroit. The Northeast
Ohio native completed 6 of 14 passes for 92 yards, leading the
first-team offense to two field goals in three drives in a 13-12 loss.
Manziel was 7 of 11 for 63 yards while playing most of the second
quarter and all of the third. The No. 22 overall draft pick out of Texas
A&M drove Cleveland's second- and third-teamers to one field goal
in four possessions.
"Brian got 24 snaps, Johnny got 25, and I thought they both settled
in quickly and were solid," Pettine said. "They had different supporting
casts, but it was good tape for both of them. Both operated the offense
efficiently, but I also thought there were plays they would like back."
Neither quarterback was sacked or committed a turnover, while
displaying their unique skill sets against the Lions' aggressive
Manziel, who is listed at 6-foot and 210 pounds, was eager to roll
out and improvise as he did in college. He scrambled five times for 26
yards, including a 16-yard gain on third-and-8, and avoided most
"Johnny does have a certain skill set that we hope to take advantage
of," Pettine said. "If he is out there, we're going to look at
The 6-2, 215-pound Hoyer stayed strong in the pocket despite pressure
from Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, taking several hits in his first
action since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last Oct. 3 against
Buffalo. He went 3-0 as the Browns' starter before the injury.
All things being equal, general manager Ray Farmer and Pettine have
said they would prefer starting the season with a veteran -- like
sixth-year pro Hoyer -- under center. It remains to be seen if it is a
close call when they have to make a decision on the starter.
"Johnny has made some improvement, a lot of improvement since
minicamp," Pettine said. "As we've said before, it was him against the
playbook, and he's got a pretty firm grasp of it. He's really gone from
one extreme to another.
"Brian, on the other hand, has been solid all the way through. It's
not going to be an easy choice, but we're confident that we'll make the
NOTES: Pro Bowl TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) and rookie CB Justin
Gilbert (groin) sat out the Lions' game, but Pettine said both could
have played if it was the regular season. "We just didn't feel it was
worth the risk," he said. . Pro Bowl WR Josh Gordon made two receptions
before exiting with an undisclosed injury. The NFL receiving yards
leader, who is expected to practice Monday, is awaiting a decision on
his appeal of a one-year suspension for violating the league's substance