BEREA — Browns left tackle Joe Thomas has blocked for 13 quarterbacks during his seven seasons with the team.
One of them is Brian Hoyer, who won all three of his starts in 2013 — and will be under center when Cleveland opens its regular season in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.
“Brian was obviously a huge factor in those victories last season, so we’re hoping to see a lot of the same things from him this year,” Thomas said Thursday following practice. “Everyone on this team wants the quarterback out there that gives us the best chance to win.
“Brian is a confident guy regardless, but I’m pleased that the coaches made a decision early, so everyone has a chance to grow together.”
After consulting with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains, Browns coach Mike Pettine told Hoyer that he won the starting job Wednesday morning. Rookie Johnny Manziel was the next person to learn the news, followed by the rest of the team.
Wide receiver Nate Burleson praised Pettine for making “a good decision” because he liked “the way Brian has commanded the leadership of this team and grabbed a hold of the playbook.”
However, the 11-year veteran made it clear he believes Manziel will lead Cleveland to great things down the road.
“Johnny being the No. 2, as you want to call it, we got arguably the best No. 2 in the NFL, and I’m OK with that,” Burleson said. “I’m a Johnny Football fan. Not only was I a fan before he got here, but now he’s family. Because we play for the same team, I’ll always be in his corner.”
Hoyer and the rest of the first-team offense are slated to play the entire first half Saturday, when the Browns host St. Louis in their third preseason game.
Pettine added that his starting offense and defense also could see some third-quarter action — depending on how many snaps they receive in the first half — and will definitely play in the Aug. 28 exhibition finale against Chicago.
“I’m happy for Brian because he’s done a good job all camp,” center Alex Mack said. “I’m also glad to see us choose one guy early, so we can run with that. Now we can get used to the one cadence and stuff that we’re going to hear in the regular season.
“Whether it be a lineman, tight end or quarterback — whoever it’s going to be — it’s good to have those reps to gain experience together.”
The defensive highlight Monday in Cleveland’s 24-23 loss at Washington was a goal-line stand in the second quarter. Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris had first-and-goal from the 3, but failed to get into the end zone on four tries.
“It was a lot of fun to be out there because you want to come out on top in those situations,” rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey said.
Morris was initially credited with a touchdown on fourth down from the 1, but it was overturned on a replay review, which showed that Craig Robertson stopped him just shy of the goal line.
“When they first said it was a touchdown, I didn’t think he was in,” Kirksey said. “When I heard they were reviewing it, I knew we were going to get the call.”
The Browns will conduct their day-before walkthroughs for the Rams and Bears games at FirstEnergy Stadium.
“The more time we can spend there, the better,” Pettine said. “There are a lot of guys who haven’t ever played a game in Cleveland, so it’s important for them to feel comfortable.”
Former Browns general manager Phil Savage, who is now in charge of the Senior Bowl, reported that Manziel attended only four of 33 summer workouts at Texas A&M last year.
The status quo reigned at practice with the same 14 players unavailable: tackle Michael Bowie (shoulder), defensive end Desmond Bryant (wrist surgery), Burleson (hamstring), cornerback Pierre Desir (knee), linebacker Darius Eubanks (shoulder), guard Randall Harris (knee), cornerback T.J. Heath (hip), wide receiver Jonathan Krause (knee), linebacker Eric Martin (concussion), linebacker Keith Pough (ankle), cornerback Buster Skrine (thumb surgery), cornerback Isaiah Trufant (knee), cornerback K’Waun Williams (hamstring) and guard Nate McDonald (wrist/non-football injury list).
Burleson, Williams, Heath, Trufant and Desir were present and rode exercise bikes.
Seven-time Pro Bowl selection Thomas was given another day off as part of Pettine’s plan to keep him fresh all season.
“I call it a sabbatical,” said Thomas, cracking a smile. “The days off help me get back to neutral because my age (29) tends to take its toll during the season. I barely practiced last year at the end because of various issues.”
Thomas declined to reveal what those “issues” were, but said he did not require surgery for any of them.
- Manziel is an 11-2 favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, according to bookmaker Bovada. Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks are next with 6-1 odds, while Titans running back Bishop Sankey is fourth at 8-1.
- Specialty food items from Michael Symon, Rocco Whalen, Jonathan Sawyer and Chris Hodgson will be made available to all fans at FirstEnergy Stadium. Aramark increased its local cuisine offerings as part of its new contract as the Browns’ general concessionaire.
- Browns president Alec Scheiner, CFO Brent Stehlik and executive vice president Bryan Wiedmeier will formally unveil the new scoreboards at FirstEnergy Stadium during an afternoon news conference today.
Quote of the day
“You can’t be that same aggressive person off the field that you are on it. If you were, nobody would like you. I am a really nice guy, though.” — Browns rookie linebacker Christian Kirksey.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.