Browns coach Mike Pettine named Brian Hoyer (pictured) the starting quarterback for the preseason opener at the Lions.
BEREA, Ohio -- Brian Hoyer was named the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns' preseason opener against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Saturday.
Despite giving first-team repetitions to rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel early in the week, first-year coach Mike Pettine named Hoyer, who is coming off a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last October, the starter for the game.
"We're going to start Brian," Pettine said. "That was his job. He was the one coming into it. We did want to mix the groups up coming into it, as we did, but he's done nothing to have that taken away from him, so he'll be out there with the starters.
"It's the first time we're really going against somebody else. We were similar to it in New York. 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. That's the best tape to evaluate. I don't think we'll be the most, but I wouldn't be surprised if we're above the average as far as how long we have our starters out there."
Although Hoyer will get the start, Pettine said there is a "possibility" Manziel could see first-team repetitions against the Lions.
"We still haven't talked about the starters, but the coaches were coming up with their own plan on how they want to rotate it," Pettine said. "I'll probably know better tomorrow whether he'll be in there with the ones."
Pettine's plan is to have all of his starters in place heading into the third preseason game, which will be against the St. Louis Rams at FirstEnergy Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 23.
"That's the plan," Pettine said. "I would like the starters to be across the board (at) all positions, that we have starters in place. I've always been a part of, and more than likely will be here, resting most of the guys in the fourth game, so that third game is critical to get that chemistry and cohesion.
"We've mixed the lineups a lot, which is good because you're getting guys exposure. They're in with the twos. They're in with the ones. They're going against the ones, going against the twos. At some point, you've got to settle down and develop that chemistry, that cohesion.
"More than likely, I think more weight will be put on those, as I've said before, because it's live reps, but the practice part will still be important. I think it's safe to say that."
Last preseason, Hoyer completed 37 of 56 attempts for 437 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions, but engineered multiple scoring drives to clinch an 18-16 comeback victory over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field.
Hoyer started the preseason finale against the Bears last August, and played the entire game when veteran Jason Campbell came down with an illness the night before.
Originally the third quarterback on the depth chart heading into the regular season, Hoyer made three starts for the Browns, all of which ended in victories, but a torn ACL in a prime-time matchup with the Buffalo Bills ended his year prematurely.
Despite not being in a live, competitive football situation since the injury, Hoyer has not taken a day off from practice in training camp.
"I've left that up to him and the trainers if (trainer) Joe Sheehan felt he needed a day off, like if there was residual swelling" Pettine said. "It's not like where Charles Johnson or Travis Benjamin are, where they're doing so much running on it that there's a potential chance that they'll have residual swelling, whereas Brian's a quarterback not doing as much running around. We haven't felt a need at this point."
PROGRESS UNDER CENTER
Two weeks ago, the Browns entered training camp expecting to have a good competition to decide who would be their starting quarterback when they open the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday, Sept. 7.
And according to Pettine, the team has seen progress from both Hoyer and Manziel.
"They've both made improvement, and I think they're both doing a great job of playing to their skill sets," Pettine said. "It's obviously very different, what they bring to the table.
"I think Brian's starting to feel very comfortable in the pocket. I think he's feeling more confident, and then, I think we all see what Manziel can do. He makes plays with his feet, but he's been probably better than we thought from in the pocket as well."
PLAN FOR GORDON
Although the Browns are waiting to hear what the results were from wide receiver Josh Gordon's appeal of an indefinite suspension because of a reported failed drug test, should there not be an announcement from the league, the third-year pass catcher will be on the field for Saturday's preseason opener.
"I think we'll mix him in," Pettine said. "I wouldn't be surprised to see him out there some with the ones, some with the twos and maybe, even into the second half. The individual coaches are coming up with their own (plans). We got a couple guys nicked up today, so that's always being adjusted."