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Johnny Manziel, middle finger, steal the show in preseason game

8/19/2014

By Nate Ulrich

By Nate Ulrich

McClatchy-Tribune

LANDOVER, Md. -- Talk about not living up to the hype.

The duel between Browns quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel in a 24-23 loss to Washington on Monday night at FedExField disappointed in almost unimaginable fashion because neither player made significant strides or a strong case he should become the starter heading into the upcoming season.

The veteran and rookie combined to deliver perhaps the biggest dud since the Y2K scare. Despite all the hoopla, nothing of much importance happened with the Browns' top two quarterbacks in the team's second preseason game.

The most-talked-about moment came when Manziel was caught on camera sticking his middle finger in the air, a gesture aimed at his opponents, late in the third quarter.

"It does not sit well," Browns coach Mike Pettine said. "I was informed of it after the game. It's disappointing because what we talk about is being poised and being focused, that you have to be able to maintain your poise. That's a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback. We have to keep our composure. That's something we'll obviously address."

Hoyer and Manziel's prime-time showdown, nationally televised on ESPN's Monday Night Football, was supposed to be their final audition before a victor was scheduled to be declared.

The Browns planned to meet Tuesday to choose one of the them as the starter for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener at Pittsburgh.

But why wouldn't Pettine call an audible and force the quarterback derby into overtime after Monday night's debacle? After the game, he wouldn't rule it out.

"It's still something we'd like to do," Pettine said of possibly making a decision today. "We'll see."

Could the Browns wait until after their next exhibition game to select a starter?

"It's possible," Pettine said. "I think all of the options are on the table."

Pettine has said a committee led by him, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains will make the decision. Pettine made it clear he would exercise his power to break a tie should one occur.

There was a tie Monday night, but it was a dead heat in futility.

Pettine has said all along he wants to name a starting quarterback before the team's third exhibition game Saturday against St. Louis. He wants the starter to have an opportunity to build chemistry with his supporting cast during a "dress rehearsal" in which the first-team offense likely will play into the third quarter in preparation for Week 1.