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Browns starting Hoyer, not Manziel vs. Redskins

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

By TOM WITHERS

AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) Brian Hoyer has held off rookie Johnny Manziel for at least another week.

Browns coach Mike Pettine has chosen Hoyer to start at quarterback ahead of Manziel in Cleveland's second exhibition game on Monday night at Washington against Robert Griffin III and the Redskins.

Pettine's decision is somewhat surprising since he has stated that the quarterback competition is "open" and Hoyer started the preseason opener last week at Detroit. Pettine has said the two quarterbacks will share the snaps with Cleveland's first-team offense against the Redskins.

"It's just something right now where we are comfortable with Brian going out there to start the game," Pettine said Thursday. "I think it's a little overblown as to who the starter is going to be. The key component, as I've stated earlier this week, is that we are going to balance the reps.

"We will play it a little by ear as it goes on, we haven't truly decided as far as the rotation but the goal is, for when we look at the stat sheet at halftime, that they both have the same amount of repetitions and hopefully they both get a good amount of work."

Earlier this week, Pettine did not know if the quarterbacks would rotate by series or quarter. Pettine did say Cleveland's starter would play "in the neighborhood" of a half.

Hoyer and Manziel have been competing for the starting job since training camp opened last month, and their back-and-forth battle appears to be headed into its final days.

Neither QB has taken control of the job, leading to endless speculation about who is leading and who needs to make up ground.

Working exclusively with Cleveland's starters last week, Hoyer, in his first game action since sustaining a season-ending knee injury in 2013, completed 6 of 14 passes for 92 yards and set up two field goals.

Manziel, the immensely popular first-round pick from Texas A&M, only played with the second-stringers and completed 7 of 11 passes for 63 yards. He also rushed for a team-high 27 yards on six carries.

Manziel's pro debut helped NFL Network set a ratings record for an exhibition game.

Pettine said he had no issues with Manziel starting against the Redskins in a nationally televised game expected to draw a large audience.

"I'm not concerned about Johnny on a big stage," he said. "He's proved throughout his career he can handle it."

Hoyer began camp with a lead on Manziel, but the former Heisman Trophy winner has been closing the gap as he learns offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's detailed system.

On Tuesday, the team signed veteran quarterback Rex Grossman, who has played under Shanahan and should be able to help Hoyer and Manziel get more comfortable with the offense.

Pettine wants to name his starter for the Sept. 7 season opener at Pittsburgh before the Browns' third preseason game on Aug. 23 against St. Louis.

It's possible the QBs' performances against the Redskins could factor heavily into Pettine's decision.

NOTES: The Browns did not practice Thursday. They'll return to the field on Friday morning. ... The team signed LB Caleb McSurdy, originally drafted by Dallas in 2010. The 6-foot-1, 241-pounder spent his rookie season on injured reserve and part of the 2013 season on the Rams' practice squad. He played college ball at Montana.

AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Updated August 14, 2014

127 © 2014 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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