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Brian Hoyer named Browns starting quarterback over Johnny Manziel

Johnny-ManzielThe Cleveland Browns announced on Wednesday morning that Brian Hoyer will start against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the regular season. Johnny Manziel has been named his backup — for now.

“(Hoyer) was the clear leader from the beginning,” coach Mike Pettine said in a press release, via Around the League. “We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”

The knee-jerk reaction is that this is a no-win situation for Hoyer. Unless Hoyer plays consistently well (a difficult task for anyone at the NFL level), Manziel is going to get a shot at some point this season. Hoyer knows his margin for error will be incredibly tight, which could add pressure and affect his performance.

Why did Mike Pettine decide to name a starter before the third game of the preseason? For starters, there have been rumors that the Browns do not want Manziel’s first NFL start to come against a potentially tough defense like the Steelers on the road. Boomer Esiason believes Manziel would get his “ass kicked” in Pittsburgh and the Browns might agree.

[WATCHThe moment Johnny Manziel finds out ESPN captured his middle finger]

Beyond the difficulty of the matchup, you have to wonder if Manziel’s infamous middle finger had anything to do with Pettine’s decision. In addition to not looking that sharp on Monday night (6-of-17 passing), Manziel made a lapse in judgment that not only made him look bad but also may have indicated he is letting opponents get under his skin.

We’d be stunned if Hoyer starts even half of Cleveland’s games this season.

Related: Johnny Manziel’s behavior reportedly cost him starting job

Johnny Manziel may be closing the gap with Brian Hoyer

Johnny Manziel Brian Hoyer

Johnny Manziel’s biggest obstacle to taking over the starting quarterback job of the Cleveland Browns may not be Brian Hoyer, but his ability to learn the playbook.

During the week, Manziel said learning the playbook has been his struggle because there are so many nuances to it. Hoyer has been the team’s starter during training camp, and offensive line anchor Joe Thomas compared him to Tom Brady. Despite all the praise, Manziel has more natural ability than Hoyer, and that was on display during a Saturday scrimmage.

The Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich reports that Manziel appeared “to have narrowed the gap between himself and Hoyer with his performance in the scrimmage.”

Head coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will talk about giving Manziel more reps with the first-team offense since he’s been working with the second-string mostly. It sounds like he will probably get that chance.

During the scrimmage, Hoyer led the first-team offense against the first-team defense and got a crack at the second-team defense. Manziel had two drives against the second-team defense. Hoyer’s drives against the first-team defense did not result in points, but he got a field goal against the second-team. Manziel went 3-and-out in his first drive and then led the offense to the goal line in his second drive, though they were stopped on 4th down.

Hoyer will probably keep the starting job for at least six games barring injury, but Manziel is getting into the mix.

Man walks onto Browns practice field hoping for tryout

Browns dog poundA random person wandered into the Cleveland Browns’ practice facility on Tuesday hoping for a shot at making the team, according to a report from the Associated Press. The ambitious fella, a former high school football player from New Mexico, brought his own pads and everything.

With an equipment bag strapped to his back, the guy supposedly entered the Browns’ indoor field house and walked onto the practice field. He appeared to be in his mid-20s. He later told reporters that he traveled to Cleveland hoping to get a shot with an NFL team. Unfortunately, he was escorted off the field before he got a chance to catch passes from Johnny Manziel.

How can you not admire the balls on this guy? He obviously thinks he has what it takes to play in the NFL, so why not start with the team that has won more than five games in a season just twice since 2003? That’s a power move if I’ve ever seen one.

Johnny Manziel texted Browns to tell them to draft him

Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns

A text message from Johnny Manziel to Browns quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains during the draft convinced Cleveland that they needed to trade up to select the former Heisman Trophy winner.

Loggains was a guest on Sports Talk with Bo Mattingly on Arkansas ESPN sports radio Thursday and shared the story of how Manziel influenced Cleveland to act.

“We’re sitting there and they keep showing Johnny on TV, and Johnny and I are texting. And he shoots me a text and he says, ‘I wish you guys would come get me. Hurry up and draft me because I want to be there. I want to wreck this league together,'” Loggains recalled, as transcribed by Cleveland.com.

“When I got that text, I forwarded it to the owner and to the head coach (Mike Pettine). I’m like ‘this guy wants to be here. He wants to be part of it.’ As soon as that happened, Mr. Haslam said, ‘pull the trigger. We’re trading up to go get this guy.”’

Loggains also says the Browns explored trades with Tennessee at 11 and Dallas at 16, though they ultimately did not make moves. He says they jumped up to 22 to take Manziel because they believed Kansas City would select him at 23.

Loggains also said Manziel was at the top of the team’s list for quarterbacks, which is pretty notable considering the report that said the Browns were going to take Teddy Bridgewater instead.

We already knew that Cleveland fans liked Manziel, but you better believe they’ll love him after hearing this. Many players — Bridgewater included — want to avoid a place like Cleveland. Manziel wanted to go there. I think this is just another reason why Johnny Football will deliver.

Cleveland Browns sign Miles Austin

Miles AustinThe Cleveland Browns announced Thursday that they have signed free agent wide receiver Miles Austin.

Austin spent his entire career from 2006-2013 with the Dallas Cowboys, but the team released him in March following three straight injury-marred seasons in order to save cap space.

Terms of Austin’s deal are not yet known, but we’re inclined to believe it’s a good signing for Cleveland. The Browns are likely losing Josh Gordon for at least part of the upcoming season because of another failed drug test, so they need more receiving options. Austin should be able to give them one for half a season or so depending on his problematic hamstrings.

The Browns did not select a receiver in the draft, which indicated to me they would bring in at least one option through free agency. Austin was the name who stood out to me because of what he’s done in the past (18 touchdowns, 2361 receiving yards in 2009-2010). He’ll be 30 for the upcoming season and he can’t stay healthy for 16 games, but he should help them for half a season, and that’s good enough.

Browns ban national media from minicamp due to ‘tight grip’ on Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns knew what they were getting themselves into when they drafted Johnny Manziel, but that doesn’t mean they can’t try to stop it. Johnny Football brings with him a media frenzy. One of the only ways the Browns can stop national writers from flocking to him is to ban them from being around the team. Consider it done.

According to Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the Browns will not be allowing any national media people to attend their rookie minicamp this weekend due to a “tight grip” on Manziel.

Oh, don’t you worry, it is going to be Johnny Football mania out there at some point. The Browns can’t ban the national media from being around the team for long. If they want to get Manziel acclimated before unleashing the dogs, I suppose that’s understandable. But as Hubbuch mentioned, they should never have drafted him if they can’t deal with the circus. It was part of the package.

Teddy Bridgewater: I told my agent I didn’t want to go to Browns

Teddy BridgewaterThe Cleveland Browns and Teddy Bridgewater appear to be playing a little game of “you can’t fire me, I quit.”

On Monday, we shared a bizarre report with you that indicated the Browns were 10 seconds away from drafting Bridgewater but decided to go with Johnny Manziel at the last second. Bridgewater claims it doesn’t matter, because he didn’t want to go to Cleveland anyway.

During an appearance on Tuesday’s edition of “The Dan Patrick Show,” Bridgewater said he told his agent the Browns aren’t the team for him.

“There was a chance, but I actually told my agent that that’s not the place I want to be,” Bridgewater claimed. “Throughout this entire process I’ve felt comfortable with the Minnesota Vikings. It’s a family environment and the players (are) a great group of guys, so I felt comfortable wanting to play here.”

Were the Browns about to draft Bridgewater when the former Louisville star’s agent informed the team that he did not want to play there? That seems doubtful. I’m more inclined to believe that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam strong-armed his football people into taking Manziel. Plus a homeless guy told him to do it, so…

H/T Paul Pabst