This might cause a few ripples of surprise around the NFL: Steelers coach Mike Tomlin believes Brian Hoyer can do everything on a field that Johnny Manziel can.
Apparently, that includes running the ball – something Manziel did with regularity and great success at Texas A&M, but Hoyer does only occasionally.
As the Steelers prepare for everything Manziel might do in special packages designed to get him on the field Sunday at Heinz Field, Tomlin said that groundwork won’t change for Hoyer.
“I believe all the things they are potentially going to ask him (Manziel) to do, I think Brian Hoyer is fully capable of doing,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “And I’m sure they are going to do it with him as well.”
Manziel’s scrambling and improvisational ability proved to be his biggest assets during a preseason in which he often struggled to discern defenses, and to throw accurately.
Manziel was only 6 of 17 against the Bears on Thursday but, in the entire preseason, carried 12 times for 88 yards, a 7.4 average and six first downs.
While few teams want to risk a quarterback’s health by running him regularly – something the Redskins might now regret with Robert Griffin III – the Browns likely will draw up some designed runs for Manziel.
Early in training camp, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau said the Steelers expected to see a lot of Manziel.
“We fully expect them to utilize him in some capacity,” Tomlin said. “They didn’t draft him in the first round to watch. We understand that. So we are going through the process of preparing ourselves, really, for both guys.”
While Manziel’s running ability is proven, Hoyer has carried only 31 times for 36 yards and one touchdown during his five-season NFL career.
Still, Tomlin said, “It doesn’t surprise me at all that he is the guy they chose to go with. He is an energy bringer. He is really intelligent. He has great ideas. He is not going to lose football games above the neck.”
Hoyer signed with the Steelers following Ben Roethlisberger’s midseason shoulder injury in 2012 but was released late in the season when they needed a roster spot for a cornerback. He was later signed and cut by the Cardinals before going to his hometown Browns.
Regardless of the quarterback, the Browns haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 2003 and have dropped 25 of their past 28 to the Steelers.