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Donte Whitner: Browns' offense like RGIII's in D.C.

Browns safety Donte Whitner isn't picking favorites in Cleveland's quarterback duel between Brian Hoyer and rookie Johnny Manziel.

Why? Because either way, Whitner says coach Mike Pettine's team is going to pound the opposition with the ground game.

"I'm going to stand back and let this competition develop and may the best man win, but our offense is gonna be predicated on running the football and being physical in the run game also," Whitner told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday. "You can't just ask both quarterbacks to stand back there and throw the ball 35, 40 times a game."

Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme is an ideal fit for running back Ben Tate and rookie challenger Terrance West. The former Redskins play-caller also knows something about unleashing mobile young passers.

"This scheme that they're running on offense is some of the stuff they did in Washington with (Robert Griffin III)," Whitner said. "So if you get that running, you get the defense guessing, and you're running the football well and throw the football around and guys' eyes aren't in the right place on defense, that's where a lot of the big plays come from."

One Plain Dealer scribe came away from watching Shanahan's attack during OTAs to announce: "It's for Johnny Manziel." Whitner, though, de-emphasized personnel to magnify the core concepts of "running the football, misdirection and using the defense's discipline against them."

It's an approach that worked beautifully when Shanahan had a healthy RGIII at his disposal two autumns ago, making the most of his young signal-caller's electric mobility while helping young Alfred Morris to an outrageous 2,800 yards rushing over his first two seasons.

"If Manziel can outplay veteran Brian Hoyer to earn the starting nod," wrote NFL Media's Bucky Brooks in June, "it's definitely possible the perceived party boy could walk away with Offensive Rookie of the Years honors on the strength of a spectacular highlight reel."

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