Johnny Manziel won't open camp as starter, but has chance to win job

Browns coach Mike Pettine is driving the Johnny Manziel hype train as slow as he can.

Brian Hoyer, and not prized first-round pick Manziel, will open training camp next month as the starter, Pettine announced. In fact, Pettine said he is "securely" ahead of Manziel, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. That's no surprise. The media reports from OTA practices, including this excellent one from Lindsay Jones of USA Today, paint a picture of Hoyer being clearly more comfortable in the offense and quicker in everything he does than Manziel. That's no surprise either. For all his hype and college accomplishments, Manziel is still a rookie barely a month into his pro career.

Just because Hoyer will begin camp as the starter doesn't mean the competition is closed. Pettine said about Hoyer's lead on Manziel, "I don't think it's insurmountable," according to the Plain Dealer.

"The issue for us as a staff is finding the right time to name a starter," Pettine told the Plain Dealer. "If you wait too late, then nobody's ready for the opener; if you do it too soon, then it wasn't a true competition. That will be part of our discussions as well as far as OK, here's the plan, here's a date that we want to go ahead and name him.''

That sets up a really interesting preseason in Cleveland (although, everything in Cleveland is interesting after the addition of the league's most talked-about rookie in years). Hoyer did play well last season before tearing his ACL, but the sample size of him playing well in the NFL is very limited. He might be a very good quarterback, considering he did OK in the two games he started and finished last season, but it's hard to say for sure. 

The coaching staff has reasons for not proclaiming Manziel the starter yet, even if it secretly figures he wins the job. And, logic and recent history says if you're betting on an outcome, it's that Manziel will be the starter sooner rather than later for the Browns. But the coaches don't want to increase the pressure on Manziel, and also can't name him the starter when Hoyer is outplaying him in practice. But Pettine made an excellent point, that waiting too long to name a starter could mean not getting either inexperienced quarterback ready for the opener. 

Whether you love Manziel or hate him, you're probably rooting for him to start this season, unless you're Hoyer's agent or best friend. Manziel is a fascinating player and will make the Browns a must-watch team. When Manziel gets that chance to shine just hasn't been determined yet.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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