The starting quarterback job in Cleveland might be Brian Hoyer's to lose.
Browns coach Mike Pettine told Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com on Wednesday that Hoyer, not first-round pick Johnny Manziel, will work primarily with the first team at the start of training camp. Pettine made the decision after meeting with members of his coaching staff.
"Hoyer's the one. He'll be with the ones in the beginning," Pettine said. "We're still going to evaluate Johnny just as we'll evaluate any other player, with his repetitions, so it shouldn't be misconstrued if he's not taking early reps with the ones.
"I think at this point, right now, it's more Johnny versus the playbook than it is versus Brian. I think he's got to make sure that continues. He's well along the path, but that needs to continue. That's a big part for him, to be able to know the play, execute the play, start the right guy in motion at the right time. So I think there's a lot of that first. So he needs to make sure that he doesn't jump ahead and tries to match (Hoyer). It's certainly more him against the playbook."
Pettine said Monday that the Browns wanted to choose their starting quarterback before they reach their third preseason game, an Aug. 23 matchup against the St. Louis Rams. Grossi remarked that it appeared a shorter timetable favored Hoyer.
"Uh, yeah," replied Pettine, "given those circumstances, I'd agree with that statement."
Pettine confirmed that Hoyer will start the first preseason game "if nothing else changes." He wouldn't say if Manziel will start the second preseason game. Pettine revealed the Browns have already added elements to their offense that would get Manziel on the field with Hoyer.
"I think all options are open," Pettine said. "I've seen that work, so I'm not close-minded to that. That's how Colin Kaepernick got his start in the NFL, as a package quarterback. On the other side of the ball, I've seen that give defenses some trouble."
The Browns' talk on Hoyer is no longer lip service. He appears to have a legitimate shot to keep his job. The real question might end up being for how long.