TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Johnny Manziel will start Cleveland’s exhibition opener — on the sideline.
Browns coach Mike Pettine chose Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback for Saturday’s game in Detroit, giving the veteran the first chance to impress before Manziel takes the field.
Pettine said the decision to start Hoyer was based on his performance so far in training camp.
“That was his job,” Pettine said. “He was the one coming into it. We did want to mix the groups up coming into it, as we did, but he’s done nothing to have that taken away from him, so he’ll be out there with the starters.”
Manziel took his first practice snaps with the first-team offense earlier this week. He could get some playing time with Cleveland’s starters against the Lions on Saturday night.
The competition between Hoyer and Manziel appears to have tightened in recent days, and Pettine said both QBs have made progress.
“They’ve both made improvement, and I think they’re both doing a great job of playing to their skill sets,” Pettine said. “It’s obviously very different, what they bring to the table. I think Brian’s starting to feel very comfortable in the pocket.”
Hoyer got a brief scare on Tuesday when his surgically repaired right knee got hit during practice. But Hoyer said the knee held up fine and that he “can’t afford” to take any time off in camp as he tries to hold off Manziel.
Manziel has grown more confident and comfortable as camp has progressed. The first-round pick, who showed off some of his playmaking abilities in a scrimmage at Akron last week, has steadily improved during practice but warned he’s “got a long way to go.”
“I think we all see what Manziel can do,” Pettine said. “He makes plays with his feet, but he’s been probably better than we thought from in the pocket as well.”
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