BEREA, Ohio — Brian Hoyer said he’s ready to claim the starting quarterback job for the Browns. The highly anticipated quarterback battle with Johnny Manziel will officially begin when training camp opens Saturday morning.
"I feel the same way about it as I did when I left," Hoyer said. "It’s my job and until someone tells me otherwise, that’s how I feel about it. I’ve worked hard to prepare myself for this training camp and now that we’re here, I’m just excited to get going, to see some of the faces back in the locker room today.
"Obviously, I was here with the early report group and we had two good days of good work and now it’s time to really go. So I’m excited for tomorrow morning."
Coach Mike Pettine said that "barring some unforeseen events" he would expect Hoyer to start the first preseason game Aug. 9 against the Lions. He also said he likely would have a starter in place before the third preseason game which is Sat. Aug 23 at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Rams.
Hoyer said he expects no limitations like he had in the OTAs and minicamp in precautionary measures to protect his surgically repaired ACL.
However, first-round draft pick Manziel plans to give Hoyer everything he has in the competition.
"I think coach Pettine and the staff here has called this an open competition and I believe that it is," Manziel said. "I’m just trying to get in here everyday and trying to be better as a player, as a teammate, really hone in on my craft and try and make this football team as good as I possibly can and whatever my role is on this team.
"I think that will be decided with the play within these next few weeks and at the end of the day what I want is what’s best for this team and what’s best for this organization moving forward because this is about the Cleveland Browns," he said. "This isn’t about me, this isn’t about Brian. This isn’t about just the quarterback position. It’s 22 positions on this team to make this thing work and come together, so it’s not just about us."
Hoyer has waited for a long time for this opportunity and he intends to not let it pass him by.
"I think obviously the competition will bring out the best player in me, but I also think the thing that drives me the most is my goal of being the starting quarterback for this team," Hoyer said. "So, obviously there is a competition, but I think in the most part I’m competing with myself. That’s the way I look at it, that’s what drives me every day to be the best player that I can and to have just a taste of it last year and then have it ripped away, it makes you realize how much you love the game and how much it means to you to have something taken away from you like that.
"Especially when you’ve waited for an opportunity for a long time," he said. "So, it drove me for the past nine months and it will continue to drive me but like I said, I think the thing that drives me most is my willingness to try to be the best and I strive for that every day."
Pettine said this week and re-affirmed Friday that Hoyer will be with the starting unit early on.
"I think that’s kind of what I expected," Hoyer said. "Limitations in spring kind of held me back. Now it’s time to go. I’m excited to be out there with those guys and really I just wanted to be in the huddle. I didn’t care if it was the wrong play, a pass play, I just wanted to be in there with those guys and be a part of the team.
"That’s what I missed most, so now to get that opportunity, especially with the guys that are going to be in that group, to get out and earn their respect and be the guy that leads them in the field."
Manziel said he feels that he’s improving every day.
"As time goes on I feel absolutely better. Day in and day out I continue to go over things, getting back into our day one installs and day two installs," Manziel said. "Going over things again and again, you get better at it as time goes on so there will be times I make mistakes during the camp. That’s a given, that’s going to happen, so I know that and I’m not worried about that. I’ll learn from those mistakes and get better as a quarterback moving forward."
Pettine said Manziel’s biggest battle is learning the playbook, and Manziel agreed with his assessment.
"I interpret it exactly the way he said it," Manziel said. "It’s not too short little plays anymore. You have a lot to a play call, you have a lot to read, you have a lot of different things that weren’t asked of me at A&M. You have to deal with protections, deal with certain things and moving forward yeah I have to adapt to that, I have to get better and continue to learn the game of football more and more. I’m not sitting up here today saying I know everything or I’m even close to perfecting this thing. I’m still a young guy, a young player and there’s a lot to learn and a lot for me to do moving forward."
Even though, by all accounts, Hoyer has the advantage, Manziel does not plan to concede not being the Browns starting quarterback on opening day.
"I’m absolutely a very competitive person and I’m going to come out here everyday and compete," he said. "I’m not going to back down from any kind of competition or anybody that really tests me but at the same time I’m worried about myself and getting better as a football player and getting better at drops, throwing with accuracy, throwing on the run and everything, really commanding a huddle, letting these guys see me on the field more and more. There’s a lot that comes with being a rookie. I haven’t been here very long so there’s a lot."
Hoyer said he doesn’t feel added pressure with Manziel coming in as a first-round draft pick.
"The pressure, you can thrive off of that," he said. "But the thing that motivates me most is to be the best quarterback for this team. Being a team player, you want the best people out there, whether that’s me or Johnny.
"That will be determined in these next couple weeks," he said. "For me, I want the best quarterback to play. All you can ask for is the opportunity to be that guy. I just have to take advantage of the opportunity I have."
Hoyer said it’s not tough for him to want the best quarterback to play.
"No, because I’m confident I am that guy, but in the same sense I know if it comes down to the fact Johnny does beat me out I will have given everything I can and he will have totally earned it," he said. "That’s what you want. All I ask is the opportunity and a chance to earn the job, and that’s what I’ve been given. For me it’s about going out every day and proving I can be that guy I believe I am."