Browns will name starting QB by third preseason game

Will it be Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel leading the Browns this season? We’ll know in about a month.

In a Q&A with the Akron Beacon Journal, Browns coach Mike Pettine said the starting quarterback will be named prior to the team’s third preseason contest on Aug. 23.

“Yeah, it’s definitely still up in the air. It could be sooner, and that’s something we’re going to discuss in that meeting. It’ll be before the third preseason game. I just don’t have a date. I don’t know if I’ll set a date and kind of paint ourselves into a date, but it will be sooner than the third preseason game,” Pettine said.

The third preseason game is typically treated as a dress rehearsal for teams; the starters play well into the third quarter, simulating a regular season tilt.

Deciding on a QB by the aforementioned date would allow Pettine to give Hoyer or Manziel ample time with the first-team offense in a live environment. That obviously helps build important chemistry for when the games actually, you know, count.

Until then, both signal-callers are on equal ground, with no clear-cut favorite. As Cleveland begins training camp later this week, Pettine is setting the stage for an even battle.

“We want to make it as open and fair a competition as we can, but you’ve got to be careful then, too, because you’ve got a guy that’s potentially your starter, and you have supporting cast issues whether that’s in a preseason game or whether you can control it a little better in practice. Then the issue that I talked about before is kind of finding that sweet spot date [for naming a starter],” Pettine said.

The clash between the (relatively) experienced veteran and the ballyhooed rookie likely will take hold of the news cycle over the next month. If it’s a neck-and-neck competition, Pettine’s decision won’t be an enviable one.

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Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, MSN.com, FanSided.com, and About.com. Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (zpkelb@gmail.com).