Regardless of whether the Browns mean it when they claim that veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer has a big lead over rookie Johnny Manziel in the “competition” (Jets style or otherwise) to win the starting job, the question of which man deserves to lead the team will be determined on the practice field, based on how the other players perceive their abilities.
So on a day when Hoyer talked about keeping his job, Manziel may have taken a big step toward taking it.
Sure, Manziel threw three interceptions on the day. But it was a quintessential Johnny Football play that had everyone buzzing after the OTA session.
As explained by Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Manziel rolled to the right, threw left across his body, and hit tight end Jordan Cameron 30 yards down the field.
“Pretty sweet, huh?” receiver Nate Burleson said of the play. “It was nice, man. I like to see Johnny make big plays. When a quarterback gets into a rhythm and gets a little confidence, his chin pokes up and his chest sticks out a little bit more and they play better and when he gets into a rhythm, he’s a special athlete.
“He’s hard to stop. He’s doing good, man. I like what I’m seeing so far out of Johnny Football.”
“He put it exactly where he needed to put it,” Cameron said of the throw. “It got people going a little. It was exciting. I know guys reacted. That’s what he does. He makes people react. It’s an emotional thing when they watch him play. He brings a lot of energy and that’s his game.”
If enough of their teammates agree with the assessments from Burleson and Cameron, it will be hard for the powers-that-be to open the season with Hoyer at the helm. Of course, one of their teammate who would vote for Hoyer is, well, Hoyer.
“You never want to see someone else doing your job,” said Hoyer, who is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered last season. “That’s the biggest thing for me. I feel I’m ready and I know a lot of people who come back from this injury talk about the mental aspect. I think I’ve conquered that months ago. As the competitor in me I want to be out there with my guys, calling the plays and running them.”
Come September, when the Browns start the season in Pittsburgh against the Steelers, there’s a good chance that it will be Manziel calling the plays and running them, especially if he keeps running them like he did on Tuesday.