BEREA, Ohio -- Brian Hoyer will begin the 2014 season in the same place he was when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last October: under center as the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.
Despite the Browns' selection of quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Hoyer got the endorsement from first-year head coach Mike Pettine following the final practice of mandatory mini-camp Thursday.
"It's been hard to evaluate because Brian hasn't been able to take the actual 11-on-11 reps, but when we put the actual depth chart together, Brian will be No. 1," Pettine said.
"It's hard because we haven't really been in the mode of thinking, 'Okay, he's this far ahead today. How much was the gap closed?' They're still learning the basics of the offense. The rookies haven't been here very long. They're playing catch-up from a playbook standpoint. At this point, we really weren't keeping score. I think we'll be much more apt to do that once we get to training camp."
Early on in the offseason program, Browns general manager Ray Farmer described Hoyer as being "significantly better" than Manziel, but Pettine sees that as a product of time.
"Brian had been here for those whatever it was, seven, eight weeks before the draft even started," Pettine said. "That was essentially a head start. I don't think it's insurmountable. I think that Brian is securely ahead of him right now, but we will compete and we will decide. The issue for us, as a staff, will be finding the right time to name the starter.
"If you wait too late, then nobody's ready for the opener. If you do it too soon, then it wasn't a true competition. That will be part of our discussions as well, as far as, 'Okay, here's the plan. Here's the date that we're going to go ahead and name it."
Although Pettine, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains have yet to decide how they will divide the repetitions between Hoyer and Manziel during training camp and the preseason games, there will be times when both signal-callers are working with the first-team offense.
"I don't know how even we'll get it, but there will definitely be times when Johnny will be with the ones," Pettine said. "It would be hard to evaluate if we didn't do that. If there wasn't a competition, then it would be strictly ones, twos. We have not met to go over that.
"Kyle, Dowell and I are going to all think of it over the summer, and as we get closer, at some point, probably get together and figure out how we want to do it. If a guy has a chance to be a starter, I would think that you'd want to expose him to a starting defense if he was going to be the guy opening day."
The one thing Pettine does not want to see is Manziel concerning himself with what is out of his control.
"I don't think he should concern himself so much with where Brian is but where he is," Pettine said. "I think if he gets in his – it's hard to say get into his playbook because it's get into his iPad -- he's going to have plenty of tape to study, his own work, what the rest of the offense has done, even in the time before he got here, the work that we were able to do on the field, start to study some opponent tape.
"He'll have a volume of Redskins tape, which will be a lot of the similar terminology, the formations, the plays. I think the more he just familiarizes himself with that, the better off he'll be."