DETROIT (AP) -- This is no ordinary exhibition game.
Johnny Manziel will have his first real chance to show how he
measures up against live NFL competition when the Cleveland Browns play
at Detroit on Saturday night.
Although Manziel won't be the starter for this game, what happens
against the Lions could be an early indicator of how soon Cleveland will
be able to rely on its rookie quarterback.
Coach Mike Pettine hopes to have a starter selected before the third
preseason game, meaning what Manziel and Brian Hoyer do in the first two
will be crucial.
"I think more weight will be put on those as I said before, because
it's live reps," Pettine said. "The practice part will still be
important, but I think it's safe to say that."
Hoyer will start Saturday, and Manziel isn't expected to play at all
with the starters, but his every move will be scrutinized regardless.
The Browns took the former Heisman Trophy winner in the first round
of this year's draft, hoping Manziel could help revive a franchise that
has not appeared in a postseason game since 2003.
"I have a long way to go," Manziel said. "I have a lot to learn, a
lot more to get comfortable with and I feel that I'm getting better. I
definitely feel my comfort level out here on the field growing day by
day and I think these coaches and the players that are around us are all
helping me get better."
Pettine is also making his debut this weekend, and the first-year
coach is faced with the task of managing Cleveland's quarterback
situation as best he can -- with fans understandably eager to see
"I think we all see what Manziel can do," Pettine said. "He can make
plays with his feet, but I think he's maybe better than we thought in
the pocket as well."
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon will likely be mixed in with the
starters and backups against the Lions as he awaits word from the NFL on
his appeal of a possible suspension for violating the league's
Receiver Nate Burleson -- who played for Detroit the past four
seasons before signing with Cleveland -- has been dealing with a
The Lions have no real quarterback competition to speak of, but like
Cleveland, they are welcoming a new coach. Jim Caldwell took over during
the offseason after Jim Schwartz was fired.
Caldwell's task is to help Matthew Stafford become a more
consistently reliable passer, and Stafford said Friday he's enjoyed a
chance to sort of start over with the new staff.
"I'm being coached differently. Our drops are different, our reads
are different, the plays are totally different," Stafford said. "It was
kind of nice to just scrap everything and start new, the way they wanted
me to do it."
Caldwell hasn't said much about how he'll divide playing time, so
it's not clear how much Stafford and Calvin Johnson will be on the field
Saturday, but this should be at least a vague preview of what the new
staff's offense will look like.
"It's preseason -- we're not going to go out there and unload the
playbook," Stafford said. "It's going to be probably more multiple
formations than I guess fans of the Lions are used to seeing. Maybe some
more motions and shifts and things of that nature, but we're still
going to be an exciting offense."
NOTES: The Lions signed free agent S Nate Ness and released LB Cory Greenwood.