Hoyer: ‘I’m acting like I’m the starter’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) talks with wide receiver Nate Burleson (13) during a voluntary minicamp workout.

Mark Duncan/AP

BEREA, Ohio — Brian Hoyer is looking as though he is ahead of schedule in his quest to return to the field.

Hoyer had surgery to repair his torn ACL last October, was on the field jogging and throwing during the individual drills portion of practice that was open to the media.

"It was awesome," Hoyer said after practice. "I felt really good, which was no surprise to me. I felt like I’ve been prepared for this for a while."

Hoyer looked fluid and was moving around pretty well with a brace on his right knee. He was 3-0 in the three games he started before being lost for the season against the Bills.

Hoyer said he feels ready to do more in practice.

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"I was begging coach to let me take team," Hoyer said. "I think they were more worried about (me) getting rolled up on. I don’t think it was anything on where I’m at. I took all the 7-on-7 (drills)."

Mike Pettine said that Hoyer is ahead of schedule.

"He’s been cleared to do individual work, not team," Pettine said. "He’s able to do 7-on-7. I thought he looked good, which was not a surprise. He’s done a good job and is ahead of schedule."

Pettine said the Browns are shooting for the mandatory minicamp June 10-12 for Hoyer to be cleared for team work, well ahead of training camp.

"It’s a battle with (trainer) Joe (Sheehan) every day," Hoyer said about doing more in practice. "Now, that I’ve been cleared, I want to keep working…I know we don’t play a game until August, but I know to be the guy in August, you have to put the time in (now)."

Before Hoyer was injured he completed 59.4 percent of his passes and threw for 615 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. His rating was 82.6.

Hoyer is expected to head to training camp — if healthy — as the starter but is expected to be pushed by one or two rookie quarterbacks the Browns might draft in the next couple of weeks or a veteran being signed such as Vince Young,Tyler Thigpen or another.

Pettine said even if the Browns draft a quarterback with the fourth pick, it doesn’t necessarily mean the rookie would have to play immediately.

"I’ve never felt if (a quarterback) is drafted that high he has to start right away," Pettine said. "In the history of the league, it is extremely difficult to come right in and be a starter."

He cited numerous instances in which he’s been, including last year with the Bills when they drafted quarterback E. J. Manuel high. He said the plan was for Kevin Kolb to be the starter but he suffered a severe concussion that cost him the season and possibly his career.

However, Hoyer has the look in his eye of being the team’s starting quarterback.

"I waited so long for the opportunity last year and got it and my mentality hasn’t changed from when I took over the team last year and unfortunately, I had to deal with the injury and battle my way back," Hoyer said. "Until someone tells me otherwise, I’m acting like I’m the starter. I always prepared that way even when I was in New England and knew I wasn’t going to play. I think if you think that way you’re always prepared to play."

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Young and Thigpen are taking part in the minicamp on a tryout basis, while Alex Tanney is the only quarterback fully taking part in the minicamp.

EXTRA POINTS

Bryant Update: DL Desmond Bryant was the only player on the roster not seen in the field house during the portion of practice open to the media. Bryant had an oblation procedure on his heart to correct an irregular heartbeat but has been a participant in the off-season program.

Pettine said Bryant was excused for personal reasons, nothing to do with him physically.

All Aboard: A Browns spokesman said the team was at 100 percent participation for the mini camp. Even though the mini camp is considered voluntary, this is the first opportunity for Mike Pettine and his staff to practice as a team and put in their systems on the field.

New Faces: All of the Browns unrestricted free agents were on the field for the first time with the Browns. Those players included: WR Nate Burleson, WR Andrew Hawkins, LB Karlos Dansby, TE Jim Dray, OL Paul McQuistan, RB Ben Tate, DB Isaiah Trufant and DB Donte Whitner.

They’re Back: Players who finished the season on injured reserve that were back practicing were: LB Quentin Groves (ankle), RB Dion Lewis (leg), OL Chris Faulk (knee) and DB Josh Aubrey.

Faulk is interesting because he was at one time considered a potential top ten draft choice at tackle from LSU before tearing his ACL in his last season at college. He was undrafted and signed by the Browns last year after the draft and spent the season on the reserve list.

On the Side: Players who finished the season on injured reserve last year who were seen rehabbing on the side were: WR Travis Benjamin (ACL), WR Charles Johnson (ACL), LB Tank Carder LB Brandon Magee and DB Brandon Hughes.

Trying Out: QB Vince Young, QB Tyler Thigpen and LB Zac Diles are practicing on a tryout basis during the mini camp.

Young (6-5, 229) was wearing No. 10. He is a seven-year NFL veteran from Texas and was a first-round draft choice of the Titans in the 2006 NFL Draft (third overall). Young last played with the Packers in the preseason last year. He hasn’t played in the regular season since 2011 with the Eagles. Young is 31-19 in his career as a starter.

Browns quarterback coach Dowell Loggains was with Young while he was with the Titans and Young said that relationship is important.

"Just being around somebody that knows me, not just as an athlete, but as a person helps me," Young said.

Young said he’s grateful for the opportunity the Browns have given him and he still has the desire to play in the NFL.

"The fire is lit," he said. "I love this game so much, just being around the game."

"Some guys get repeat chances and we’re glad to give him the opportunity," Pettine said. "We’ll make a decision at the end of (this) camp."

Pettine said he expects the Browns will sign one of the quarterbacks.

Thigpen (6-1, 216) is also a seven-year veteran, from Coastal Carolina, who last was with the Bills in 2012.

Diles (6-0, 245) is an eight-year NFL veteran from Kansas State who last played with the Titans in 2013.