Manziel and Brian Hoyer are set to lock horns for the Browns' starting quarterback job, and head coach Mike Pettine told the Akron Beacon Journal that he will pick a starter prior to the team's third preseason game, even if the exact date isn't yet known.
“Yeah, it’s definitely still up in the air," Pettine said. "It could be sooner, and that’s something we’re going to discuss in that meeting. It’ll be before the third preseason game. I just don’t have a date. I don’t know if I’ll set a date and kind of paint ourselves into a date, but it will be sooner than the third preseason game.”
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Pettine said he still isn't sure how he'll split the reps with the first-team offense prior to then between Hoyer, who has taken the majority of the starter's reps so far in the offseason, and Manziel, the hot-shot rookie who leads the NFL in jersey sales before ever taking a meaningful snap.
“Haven’t had that discussion yet [with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains]," Pettine said. "I talked to them today, and they’re kind of gathering their thoughts. We’re going to meet tomorrow about it as well. ...
"We want to make it as open and fair a competition as we can, but you’ve got to be careful then, too, because you’ve got a guy that’s potentially your starter, and you have supporting-cast issues whether that’s in a preseason game or whether you can control it a little better in practice. Then the issue that I talked about before is kind of finding that sweet spot date [for naming a starter].”
The best football player will win the job. But that doesn't mean there isn't a concern with Manziel's off-field distractions, and Pettine said he has talked to Manziel following a slew of public photos that didn't cast the rookie in the best of lights.
“I’ve talked to him," Pettine said. "I don’t think I used the phrase ‘tone it down.’ I don’t want to get into specifics of the conversation, but I’m comfortable with where we are and what we’ve talked about and I’m comfortable heading into training camp that he knows where I stand.”
Pettine said that Manziel responded positively and isn't worried about the rookie partying too much.
“Yeah, moving forward, once we get into the season, I feel good that way," Pettine said. "I know players are going to go out during the season, but I doubt it’ll be to the extent that we’ve seen.
“It was a positive conversation.”
The conversation for one of these guys — the one where Pettine tells them who is starting Sept. 7 at Pittsburgh — isn't going to go over as well.
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