BEREA, Ohio — Johnny Manziel, so full of swagger and cool, understands his limitations. He’s only a rookie.
And as the celebrity quarterback prepares for Cleveland’s exhibition on Monday night in Washington, a game that could decide whether he or Brian Hoyer starts the season opener at Pittsburgh on Sept. 7, Manziel acknowledged he’s still got a lot to learn.
“I don’t think I’m ready for Pittsburgh right now,” he said.
Manziel, though, was quick to point out that he’s made progress during training camp, and he expects to get better running Cleveland’s offense.
“I’ve only played one game, but the more and more you see it, the more you get familiar with it, the better it will be,” Manziel said after practice Saturday.
Manziel and Hoyer will split time with Cleveland’s first-team offense against the Redskins in a game being hyped as a nationally televised matchup between Johnny Football and RG3, Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Hoyer, who entered camp as the No. 1 QB and has done nothing to lose his starting job, was unaware that he’s not part of the ratings campaign.
“I don’t watch ESPN,” he said. “It doesn’t matter, because what matters is what coach (Mike) Pettine thinks and what (offensive coordinator) Kyle (Shanahan) thinks. The media can make any story they want. I avoid all of that. When it comes down to it, they’re not the ones making the decisions.”
The Hoyer-Manziel competition is nearing its conclusion, and it’s still not clear if Pettine and his staff are leaning in one direction.
Pettine is determined to get his two QBs an even amount of snaps against the Redskins. Pettine said he’ll reach out to Washington coach Jay Gruden to find out his plans to use his starters so he can ensure that Hoyer and Manziel face similar competition.
“If we have to make some adjustments to get the matchups we want then we will,” Pettine said.
Pettine plans to meet with his staff and pick a starter Tuesday.
While most of the country is eager to see what Manziel will do on the Monday night stage, the Heisman Trophy winner is staying calm and focused.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure for me,” he said. “I’m still learning. I’m still growing. This is my second game. My expectations aren’t through the roof. It’s go out and compete extremely hard, be a leader for those guys, whatever group I’m with, and we’ll see what happens.”
After his off-field behavior in the offseason was widely scrutinized, Manziel is finding his habits are always being watched. He conceded to being late for a meeting on Monday morning after he misread a change in the team’s schedule. Manziel said he and Pettine talked and have “moved on.”
“It was an honest mistake and something I need to learn from and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Manziel said.
As for Hoyer, he hasn’t changed his belief that the Browns are his team. While dealing with the hysteria caused by Manziel, he has maintained he’s only trying to become the best quarterback possible. There may be signs that Manziel is Cleveland’s quarterback of the future, but Hoyer is only concerned with the here and now.
He’s aware that Pettine said the Week 1 starter should not think it’s a permanent gig.
“It’s a situation I dealt with last year when I came in and we kind of said it was a week to week thing,” he said.
Hoyer also heard the trade speculation that began when the Browns signed veteran quarterback Rex Grossman earlier this week.
It’s not worth worrying about.
“I guess people were trying to connect the dots and that’s your job to do that,” he said. “For me, I’m not concerned about anything like that. I’m looking forward to being the starting quarterback here. ”
NOTES: CB Buster Skrine may need surgery after injuring his thumb and will likely miss the remainder of the preseason. Pettine expects he’ll be available for the opener. Skrine has been battling rookie CB Justin Gilbert for a starting spot. … DE Desmond Bryant is getting a second opinion before he possibly has wrist surgery, Pettine said. … WR Josh Gordon practiced after missing time with an abdominal injury, but it’s not certain if he’ll face the Redskins. The Browns are still awaiting a ruling from the league on Gordon’s potential suspension. “We respect that there’s a process,” Pettine said. “I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t frustrating.”