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Originally published Wednesday, August 20, 2014 at 9:40 PM

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Browns name Brian Hoyer starter

Brian Hoyer defied long odds — and stiff-armed Johnny Football — to keep his dream job.


The Associated Press

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BEREA, Ohio — Brian Hoyer defied long odds — and stiff-armed Johnny Football — to keep his dream job.

Through sweat and tears, he fought his way back from a serious knee injury only to be faced with the Browns drafting Johnny Manziel, college football’s dynamic quarterback with the cult-like following.

Hoyer, though, persevered. He endured grueling rehab to get back on the field sooner than expected, stayed focused as Manzielmania consumed the Browns, and ignored trade rumors. It will be Hoyer who will lead the Browns, his hometown team, onto the field for the Sept. 7 opener against the archrival Pittsburgh Steelers.

For a Cleveland kid cut by three NFL teams and waiting for his chance, it doesn’t get any better.

“Obviously it’s very special for me,” Hoyer said. “Did I believe this could happen after I got hurt? There was no doubt in my mind, but there were days when rehab (stunk) and I hated what I was doing. It’s amazing how you appreciate the game when it’s taken away from you.”

Needing to fix his offense quickly, first-year Browns coach Mike Pettine chose Hoyer as his starter Wednesday over Manziel, who wasn’t able to do enough during training camp or two exhibition games to convince Cleveland’s coaching staff he deserved the job.

Manziel is 0-1 as a pro.

“It’s obviously disappointing,” Manziel said. “I feel like if I would have come out and played better it would have been a different outcome. I don’t think I played terrible, but I didn’t do anything to jump off the page.”

The first major decision of Pettine’s coaching career wasn’t easy. He chose Hoyer’s experience over Manziel’s potential, and he may have to make another switch. Pettine knows the best plans can change in an instant.

“Give me a crystal ball, and I’ll tell you,” he said when asked if Manziel will play this season. “The NFL season is so long, so much can happen. We don’t want Brian looking over his shoulder thinking one bad throw and I’m out. But over time, if you feel you have to make a change, time will only tell.

“You could foresee a scenario where he doesn’t play this year and there are other scenarios that are absolutely possible as well. It’s hard to tell.”

Manziel hopes the hysteria quiets down a little.

“I’m the backup quarterback,” he said. “I shouldn’t be in the spotlight.”

Notes

Jim Kelly shows no evidence of sinus cancer three months after the Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback completed radiation and chemotherapy treatments, his doctor said.

• The Bengals and Vontaze Burfict agreed to a three-year contract extension that will pay the Pro Bowl linebacker a maximum of $20.05 million through 2017. Burfict is making $570,000 in the final year of his original deal with Cincinnati.

• Pittsburgh Steelers running backs Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount will be charged with marijuana possession after a traffic stop in Ross Township.

• Denver Broncos wide receiver Jordan Norwood tore his left ACL in practice, ending what was shaping up as one of the league’s best comeback stories.

• The New York Jets placed rookie cornerback Dexter McDougle on season-ending injured reserve after he had surgery to repair a torn knee ligament.

• Former Minnesota Vikings center Mick Tingelhoff has been nominated as the senior finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 2015 class of inductees.



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