Johnny Manziel took all the first team reps on Wednesday, even though after practice Mike Pettine announced that Brian Hoyer would start the first preseason game on Saturday against the Lions. During Manziel’s first 11-on-11 session, the team mostly worked the running game, but he did make a few throws including a big gainer to Andrew Hawkins. Manziel also led his unit to a score in 9-on-9 format, connecting again with Hawkins for a big gain on the drive.
Brian Hoyer didn’t exactly shine with the second unit on Wednesday as he threw an interception to end his 9-on-9 series when a low pass bounced off the receiver and landed in K’Waun Williams’ hands. Both quarterbacks were given two series at the end of practice to work an 11-on-11 red zone offense session. The only touchdown of the four series came on Manziel’s first series when he found tight end Jim Dray in the end zone. Hoyer had five completions and only one miss, but his throws were underneath and both drives stalled short of the end zone.
The orange jerseys were up for grabs on Manziel’s last series, and went to the defense when Johnny’s fourth-down pass was batted away at the goal line by rookie linebacker Chris Kirksey. Manziel immediately realized he had a receiver coming open in the back of the end zone if he had waiting a hair longer, or faked the pass over the middle.
When asked if it was fair to say that the quarterback job would be won during the preseason games, Pettine agreed saying “There is no substitute for live game reps against someone else.”
And now, The Bullets…
• Coach Pettine said post-practice that they expected safety Tashaun Gipson to play on Saturday, but that tight end Jordan Cameron would sit the game out and likely be back next week.
• Second-year bruiser Garrett Gilkey was the right guard with the first unit again today after John Greco worked with the group yesterday and was listed as the starter on the depth chart.
• Karlos Dansby made a great play with a stuff and fumble recovery. He also got on Jabaal Sheard for not keeping contain on an outside run.
• Speaking of outside contain, Paul Kruger also got burned on a rush to the outside from Ben Tate. The Browns had some struggles with that last season, and it is worth keeping your eye on again. Tate also made safety Donte Whitner miss in the hole at the line of scrimmage and ripped off a big run. Not to be outdone, Terrance West had a great run up the middle that included a spin move that left a defender grasping at air.
• The second and third units had trouble with snaps early on in practice. There were also a few off-sides and procedure penalties called.
• Justin Staples recovered a fumble and rumbled down the sidelines for a score, somersaulting into the end zone. When in Rome.
• The team worked on special teams, including kick-off return and field goals. Kicker Billy Cundiff missed one kick off the uprights. Justin Gilbert got a chance to return a couple kicks, though there was no live tackling. Travis Benjamin sat out the day as he has done a few times so far in camp.
• Speaking of sitting out, Joe Thomas took another day away from contact.
• Keep your eye on No. 91 Calvin Barnett when during the second half of Saturday’s scrimmage. The rookie defensive lineman had a great day against the third teams, especially against the run. He swam around Ryan Lee like Michael Phelps.
• All four players that the Browns signed last night were on the field. I asked former Buckeye Matt Wilhelm about the chances of anyone making the roster or practice squad that is picked up this late in camp. He said they were less than five percent.
• Offensive lineman Martin Wallace hadn’t been in a scuffle in a couple of days, so he got into it briefly with a defensive lineman. I believe it was Justin Staples.
Practice is closed on Thursday, as the team works on an install for the Lions game. They will travel Friday for the game in Detroit on Saturday.