BEREA, Ohio — Brian Hoyer knows Johnny Manziel is gunning for his job, but the Browns’ incumbent starting quarterback wants to make one thing clear.
It’s his job to lose.
“To me, this is my team until someone else tells me otherwise,” Hoyer said.
And after a rain-soaked practice Monday morning, the evidence would point to that still being the case, as Hoyer took his reps with the first-team offense, relegating Manziel to second-team duty. He may be fighting for the starting job, but for now, the Browns remain Hoyer’s team.
That doesn’t mean Manziel won’t get the opportunity to prove himself before Cleveland takes on Washington on Monday night. Browns coach Mike Pettine said the reps will be mixed this week, and a decision on the starting quarterback for the second preseason game will come later in the week.
In other words, nothing is locked up. However, Hoyer still has the inside track at the starting job he’s been maintaining to this point. And it might not be that tenuous of a lead, according to Pettine. As far as he’s concerned, Hoyer is in the same position he’s been in all of training camp.
“Nothing’s changed. If there was a significant change on the depth chart, it would be reflected on the field,” Pettine said.
But Hoyer and Manziel haven’t been able to create much distance between each other.
In Saturday’s preseason opener, a 13-12 loss to the Detroit Lions, Hoyer completed 6 of 14 passes for 92 yards. Manziel was 7 of 11 for 63 yards, but flashed the ability to use his legs by rushing for 27 yards on six carries. Neither quarterback was able to get his team into the end zone.
Neither looked particularly sharp in sloppier, rainy conditions on Monday. Hoyer threw two interceptions, one each to Joe Haden and Buster Skrine. On Haden’s interception, Hoyer’s intended receiver, Miles Austin, slipped in the slick grass and allowed Haden to get the pick.
As for Manziel, he didn’t show much in the way of a rhythm during practice, but the confident rookie is simply going to try to make the best of his opportunities, whatever they may be.
“I don’t expect anything,” Manziel said. “I expect to come out and get the reps and get the teamwork that I’m told I’m going to get. I hope to do whatever the coaches tell me.”
That includes playing in less than ideal conditions. Rather than move the practice inside when it started to rain, Pettine kept his team on the field to get some playing time in bad weather.
“I’m sure we need to get used to playing in a little bit different conditions. Can’t be perfect every day,” Manziel said.
As for what Manziel could do to potentially win the starting job, Pettine says there are a few things Manziel can continue to do, but he will take everything into consideration.
“Just continue to master his craft, run the offense, be efficient,” Pettine said. “I don’t think it’s a tangible thing where you can say if he does this, then this will happen.”
The race remains up in the air, but eventually, someone is going to have to win the starting quarterback job for the Browns.
“If you’re going to get a job at a starting role, I’ve always felt that needs to be earned,” Pettine said.
Now Hoyer or Manziel just need to do it.
NOTES: TE Jordan Cameron (shoulder) returned to practice in a no-contact brown jersey. He didn’t participate much in team drills. ... WR Josh Gordon sat out practice with an unspecified minor injury. Other players riding the bikes included WR Nate Burleson (hamstring), FB MarQueis Gray (concussion), CB Justin Gilbert (groin), DL Billy Winn (abdomen), LB Darius Eubanks (shoulder), and LT Joe Thomas, who was getting a scheduled day off.