BEREA, Ohio —In the highly anticipated quarterback battle, veteran Brian Hoyer is by all accounts ahead of his rookie rival Johnny Manziel. The duo looked pretty close on Saturday, but Hoyer had a very good practice on Sunday. He threw the ball well downfield completing long passes to Anthony Armstrong and Taylor Gabriel.
Hoyer made it through his first two practices with no problems. He took most of the snaps with the first team and threw the ball well.
“It was good,” Hoyer said. “It’s good to get back out there and for me, take some snaps under center and get the feel of that and be in the huddle with these guys like we talked yesterday.
“So it’s just good, it’s a good building block for our foundation and now you just have to go back, review the film and make corrections on mistakes and keep learning and move on.”
Mike Pettine said that Hoyer is getting more confidence in his surgically repaired knee.
“I think it’s just a matter of getting the repetitions with confidence,” Pettine said after Sunday’s practice. “I think anybody coming off (an ACL injury), it’s just human nature, may be a little flighty early with lots of big bodies flying around. I think he’ll only get more comfortable as we go.”
Hoyer has been getting most of the reps with the starters and Pettine said the coaching staff will re-evaluate this week.
“A little bit longer (Hoyer getting most of the time with the ones),” Pettine said. “The players are off on Wednesday. Then we’ll get with—not just with the quarterback competition but with the other groups—and evaluate.
“These are the players that have gotten reps with this group, and we want to make sure we get things evened out so we get a good evaluation.”
Hoyer came into training camp as the third string quarterback last season. This year, he feels this is his team.
“I think for me, I can kind of be myself a little bit more,” he said. “When you’re not a guy who’s the starter or in the position to be the starter, you don’t want to step on too many toes and vocalize things and be a leader as much. I think now with the position I’m in, I’m not afraid to go up and tell guys, ‘Hey, on this route do this’, because last year’s situation I was really the third, second quarterback and you kind of leave that up to the starter, because you don’t want to throw someone off because you had a conversation with a receiver and the starter didn’t do it.
“Whereas now, I’m in the position to be the starting quarterback so I feel like I’m more freely going about talking to the receivers or talking to the tight ends and getting in there with the line and working on cadence and things like that,” he said. “it’s the little things. When you are in there with that first group, you can kind of speak your mind a little more freely.”
Hoyer said he doesn’t feel that he is going to put undo pressure on himself in the quarterback competition.
“Yeah, you just play within yourself and take what the defense gives you,” he said. “Really that should be your philosophy regardless if you’re in competition or not. I’m not out there trying to make spectacular plays, magical plays because that’s not what you do in a game. I try to treat every practice like it’s a game. Going against our defense, you never know what you’re going to get and you just try to read it out and take what they give you, because they do have a great scheme and they disguise a lot. So, it actually makes it easier for me not to try to press, because I just kind of go through my progressions and if something’s there I try to take it, if not, then you move on.”
Pinkston Mystery: OL Jason Pinkston has missed both of the practices to date and Pettine was asked about the situation.
“Just before we get started real quick, I know some people might ask about [OL Jason] Pinkston,” Pettine said. “Pinkston’s unavailable to practice and due to his circumstances I cannot comment on it any further. I want to give you more, but just given the circumstances, I can’t. That’s where we are with Jason.”
Pettine said he has no idea when Pinkston might be back and when asked if he will be back, he said.
“Possibility,” he said. “I will not speak on it further.”
Pinkston tweeted that he was not in any ’legal trouble’ and that he isn’t considered retiring.
Missing: Besides OL Jason Pinkston, OL John Greco, DL Phil Taylor, TE Gary Barnidge, K Jake Rogers and DL Billy Winn remain on the active non-football/injury list. Joining those players on the sideline was rookie WR Chandler Jones.
Pettine said that Taylor is rehabbing from an injury, but gave no timetable for his return.
Meanwhile, MarQueis Gray returned to practice and worked with the running backs/fullbacks.
Johnny’s Shoes: Everything about QB Johnny Manziel is flashy—even his shoes. Manziel came out on the field before practice with neon yellow/green shoes causing a buzz.
However, before practice started he switched to is standard-issued shoes.
Pettine was asked if Manziel was asked to change them.
“I’m a black shoe, black sock guy,” Pettine said. “It’s team issued gear. Calvin Barnett came out yesterday wearing Oklahoma State socks and even though they were orange, that lasted about a day.”