(Reuters) – Johnny Manziel has found instant popularity since being drafted in the first round by the Cleveland Browns, but will have to wait until August to find out if he has the starting quarterback job.
The charismatic Manziel, whose No. 2 jersey has become the National Football League’s top seller, is in competition with journeyman Brian Hoyer for the critical assignment.
Browns coach Mike Pettine told reporters at team headquarters on Monday that a starting quarterback would be named by the third week of the preseason if not before.
Pettine said he would meet on Tuesday with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains to decide how to split first-team reps in training camp between former Texas A&M star Manziel and Hoyer.
Hoyer, who has started four games in his NFL career since being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Patriots in 2009, went 3-0 as a starter for Cleveland last season.
“(A decision) could be sooner, and that’s something we’re going to discuss in that meeting,” Pettine said, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.
“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.”
The Browns play their third preseason game on Aug. 23 against the St. Louis Rams.
The NFL announced on Monday that more Manziel Browns jerseys were sold on NFLShop.com during the first fiscal quarter of the year than any other player jersey.
Pettine also said the Browns had no intention of cutting ties with the team’s primary receiving target – troubled wide receiver Josh Gordon.
Gordon had been facing a potential lengthy suspension for doping violations before he was arrested on DWI charges earlier this month.
“Josh is a Cleveland Brown. We want to do what’s best for him. We have a player that potentially needs help. Whether it’s him or whether it’s anybody else that wears the uniform, if we can help, we’ll help,” the coach told cleveland.com.
“I don’t think that cutting him (is) necessarily the best option here. It might be the worst option for both – for us and for him.”
Gordon’s suspension-appeal hearing is expected to take place later this month. Gordon is facing an indefinite ban for violating the league’s substance abuse policy for a third time.
If he loses his appeal, he will have to wait a year before applying for re-instatement with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“We’re expecting him to report on Friday and be on the field,” Pettine said of Gordon.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in Winchester, Kentucky; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)