Quarterback competition already underway

BEREA, Ohio -- Brian Hoyer did not take first-team repetitions during the offseason program because of fears of the surgically repaired anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, but that does not mean the quarterback competition has not already begun for the Cleveland Browns.

Hoyer took every snap possible during individual drills and worked with wide receivers, running backs and tight ends during the offseason program despite being only six months out from surgery, and is doing so in an effort to hold onto a job that 2014 first-round draft pick Johnny Manziel is trying to secure.

"I think every day's a competition, not just for him, but for me, for every receiver, for every running back," Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins said. "I think most guys feel that way. As a professional, you should always feel that way. You've got to come in at all times because there's always a guy chasing you.

"(Hoyer's) very precise. He works hard. He understands the offense extremely (well). He's working every day. He'll come to me after practice and say, 'Hey, on this route, you did this.' It could be a completion, completed for 40 yards, and he'll be like, 'Hey, maybe we should do this?' That's what you want out of guys. Him and Johnny are both like that. That's a special thing to have."

Hawkins should know what Hoyer is capable of, as he saw it first-hand as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals last season when Hoyer led the Browns to a 17-6 victory over their in-state rival at FirstEnergy Stadium last September.

Hoyer completed 25 of 38 attempts for 269 yards with two touchdowns without an interception in the victory.

"That was special," Hawkins said. "I actually wasn't playing, so I got to see it first-hand from the sideline, and he was ripping us apart. He is so precise and he does read defenses extremely well. He understands it, and I think that's special."

First-year Browns coach Mike Pettine said he does not feel as though Hoyer "lost ground" to Manziel, or for that matter, veteran backup Tyler Thigpen, because he was held out of 11-on-11 drills in the offseason.

"I think he's frustrated because he says, 'Hey, my unit's the ones, and I'm not out there with it,'" Pettine said. "It's frustrating for him, but he understands -- very begrudgingly understands -- why we're doing it. He is the ultimate competitor. I'm glad that he came and talked to me about it. I'm glad that he feels the way that he is because I don't think he would be what you'd be looking for in a quarterback if he wasn't just wearing everybody out to try to get out there full go.

"To me, it's too big of a risk to take, the downside if somebody does crash into him. I don't feel it's that significant of a difference that he's not getting the work. He's still getting the 11-on-11 work, calling the play in the huddle. We feel we're kind of walking that line down the middle, and I know he's frustrated."

One of the reasons Hoyer did not lost any ground is because the veteran quarterback was able to read defenses and get rid of the ball quicker than Manziel, who is still learning how to throw the ball through tight windows of coverage.

"I think Brian anticipates very well, and I think that's one of the bigger differences between college football and the NFL," Pettine said. "College quarterbacks, at times, sometimes based on their system, too, they wait until guys get open to throw the ball. That's a very common thing.

"It's rare to have a guy coming out of college who can anticipate the break, whereas Brian understands the windows are a lot smaller in the NFL. I think the younger quarterbacks are kind of finding out how tight the windows are in the NFL. Anytime you can throw it before a receiver's open and have it arrive as he's getting open, that's the way to go for sure."

As the competition between Hoyer and Manziel heats up during training camp, veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson feels it will only make the individuals, and the team, better in the end.

"I like competition at any position," Burleson said. "I just feel like when you have two guys that are hungry, that want to start, want to be the head of an organization at the quarterback position, for whatever reason, whether you're a guy coming off an injury like B or you're a guy whose taken most of the criticism and handled it well, like Johnny, both of those guys have more than enough reasons to be very good at the position.

"I just feel we're fortunate to have that. I've been on teams, and there's teams right now, that don't have that competition. They have one guy, and then, everyone else is pretty much destined to be the backup. We've got two guys that can play at a very high level."


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