BEREA — Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer knew competition was coming. He just didn’t know it would be Texas A&M lightning rod Johnny Manziel.
“Everyone in America knew we’d draft a quarterback,” Hoyer told The Chronicle-Telegram this afternoon. “Johnny brings a little more with who he is. At least it’s over now.
“Now we’ve got to get to work. I look forward to competing with him.”
Hoyer’s expectations didn’t change just because the Browns selected the most famous player in the draft.
“No, not at all,” said Hoyer, a North Olmsted native and St. Ignatius graduate. “I still expect to be the guy playing.”
Hoyer is the incumbent after starting three games last season. The Browns won all three, but he was knocked out in the first quarter of the third game when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He’s ahead of schedule in his recovery, participated in seven-on-seven drills at minicamp last week and is expected to be fully cleared for training camp at the latest.
The Browns became the lead story on ESPN and NFL Network after trading up to No. 22 in the first round of the NFL Draft and taking Manziel. Despite the buzz and admitted pressure he’ll face to start Manziel, rookie coach Mike Pettine reiterated he’ll stick to his beliefs and play the best quarterback.
“It’ll be a competition, and I meant that when I said it,” Pettine said Thursday night. “I don’t think you can hand jobs to people when they come in. We’re in the business of evaluating who will be the best quarterback for the Cleveland Browns to win football games and that’s who’s going to play, whether that’s Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel.”
Hoyer said he believes Pettine.
“I honestly do,” he said. “I’ve learned in this league not to trust too many people. But after being around him and learning his character, I trust him all the way. I don’t have any doubts about that.”
Hoyer, who went undrafted in 2009, said he doesn’t normally pay attention to the draft. This year was different. He watched from home and only planned to keep it on until the Browns picked at No. 4.
Instead, they traded back to No. 9 and up to No. 8 to select Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. A quarterback was coming next, so Hoyer stayed tuned in until Manziel was announced.
First-time general manager Ray Farmer sent Hoyer a text to alert him of the Manziel pick. Hoyer responded that he wasn’t owed an explanation.
“And I told him nothing scares me,” Hoyer said. “I’m ready to compete.”
On Thursday night, Farmer said Hoyer texted: Bring him on. Hoyer said those weren’t the exact words but “that was the message.”
Manziel respected the response form his new teammate.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Manziel said today at an introductory news conference. “You look at the guy and you hear some things he said and he’s a competitive guy. I haven’t gotten a chance to speak to him or to get a chance to meet him yet, but I feel like that’s exactly what I want in a teammate, a guy that’s very competitive.”
Hoyer said he’s only seen highlights of Manziel.
“Obviously he’s exciting,” he said. “If you win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, that’s impressive.
“It’ll be fun. I’ve always thought of myself as a competitor, and I think he is too. It will benefit both of us.”