The Browns locker room is split on starting quarterback. But there’s apparently no schism.
Safety Donte Whitner, who let the cat out of the bag while in San Francisco that Colin Kaepernick would keep the starting job after Alex Smith’s concussion healed, tells Peter King of TheMMQB.com that the locker room currently is divided, but possibly not in a bad way, on whether Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel should start.
“It’s been fierce,” Whitner said of the competition. “Two guys fighting for their lives. It’s close. I’d say [the locker room] is split about 50-50. We know they both can play.”
That’s fine for now, but if Manziel struggles, that half of the locker room that supports Hoyer (whom left tackle Joe Thomas has compared to Tom Brady) may change their minds about Manziel and clamor for a change that would be much harder to make than benching Hoyer for Manziel.
The best news for Manziel is that Whitner (and presumably other teammates) has no resentment arising from the Johnny Football persona.
“Very quiet,” Whitner said of Manziel. “Very respectful. He’s earning his keep so far. He’s not asking for any privileges. He’s just a rookie, and he’s acting like one. When we have the rookie show, he’ll sing just like the rest of them. As far as football goes, I’m seeing him put the ball on the money like a veteran. Sometimes the receiver drops it. Sometimes the receiver isn’t even looking for the ball and it bounces off him. He’s got the confidence a quarterback has to have.”
Manziel definitely has the confidence. The problem could be that he has too much confidence, especially when it comes to his ability to avoid injury when getting banged around by NFL players. Which could mean that both Manziel and Hoyer will play this year, if/when (when) Manziel’s style gets him hurt.