BEREA, Ohio -- Coach Mike Pettine's impending announcement about who'll start at quarterback for the Browns when they visit the Washington Redskins on Monday night in the second preseason game will pack less of a punch because of the revelation he made Tuesday after practice.
The Browns plan to give veteran Brian Hoyer and rookie Johnny Manziel about the same amount of reps with the starters in their upcoming nationally televised prime-time game. Pettine, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will meet Thursday, when the team has the day off, to choose the starting quarterback for Monday.
"We're all going to have an opinion on how we want to handle it, but it's not going to be anything earth-shattering," Pettine said. "The bottom line coming out of the game is that they both should get close to equal reps with the ones no matter who starts."
Hoyer started the Browns' preseason opener Saturday and worked exclusively with the first-team offense in the 13-12 loss to the Detroit Lions. Manziel spent the night with the second unit. The second exhibition game will definitely be different.
"Johnny's going to get reps with the ones," Pettine said. "Just to me, the factor of starting the game I think is a little bit overblown in this situation because we're going to try to balance the reps with the ones in the game. So I don't think it was anything that, 'Brian came in ahead.' It's a little overrated who trots out there for the first time."
The coaches have yet to decide whether Hoyer and Manziel will each play a quarter or if they'll alternate series.
"It's hard to get in a rhythm if it is by series," Pettine said. "So that will be one of the things we'll discuss."
Pettine believes the staff is still "on schedule" to name a starting quarterback for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener at the Pittsburgh Steelers before the third preseason game Aug. 23 against the St. Louis Rams.
Although Hoyer's and Manziel's performances Monday will carry a significant amount of weight, Loggains stressed the decision won't solely be based on the game.
"It's body of work they're accumulating, putting together," Loggains said. "And that's how we'll make the decision."
The Browns released an updated depth chart Tuesday. Hoyer is still listed as the No. 1 quarterback, and Manziel is No. 2. But Loggains echoed Pettine's previous statements about the absence of a clear-cut favorite in the quarterback derby.
"There's not a leader," Loggains said.
Manziel took all of the reps with the first-team offense during practice Tuesday, completing 6 of 12 passes with an interception in team drills, according to the Beacon Journal's unofficial count. Hoyer, who received all of the snaps with the starters Monday, completed 6 of 9 passes in 11 on 11 sessions while working with the second unit.
In Saturday's exhibition game, Hoyer completed 6 of 14 passes for 92 yards in three series, posting a passer rating of 65.2. Manziel went 7 of 11 passing for 63 yards in four series, finishing with a passer rating of 79. He also ran six times for 27 yards (4.5 average).
Neither led a touchdown drive. For what it's worth, ProFootballFocus.com gave Hoyer a slightly higher grade.
"The bottom line is we want to see who leads the team and gets us in the end zone the most," Loggains said. "Both of those guys have done a really good job, and I'm excited to see the process as it goes on."
Some criticized Manziel's performance against the Lions because he ran so often, but Loggains didn't mind.
"The fine line with coaching Johnny is you can't take the best part of him away, and that's his ability to extend plays with his legs," Loggains said. "There's a fine line of going through your progressions and making plays with your legs, and I thought he did an exceptional job in the game of doing that."
However, Loggains said he doesn't think All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon's looming suspension will give one quarterback a leg up over the other. Some observers believe the absence of a top receiving option would prompt the Browns to favor Manziel because of his mobility and knack for creating plays via improvisation.
As far as Manziel's knowledge of the playbook, Loggains praised him for his progress since spring practices. He acknowledged the "17-word play calls" in Shanahan's system are much more complicated than the ones Manziel used at Texas A&M.
"He's been phenomenal as far as being on top of the details," Loggains said.
Loggains also insisted he hasn't seen Hoyer wilt as Manziel has improved.
"I haven't seen the pressure affect Brian one way or the other," Loggains said.
Which is why the race is close and why Monday's game will be so intriguing. Especially with Hoyer and Manziel splitting time with the starters.
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