The Cleveland Browns did not utilize Johnny Manziel at all during a Week 1 loss in Pittsburgh. But in Week 2, they slowly but surely gave him some playing time.
After two weeks of talking about a specially designed package of plays for Manziel, the Browns inserted their first-round draft pick into the lineup early in the third quarter Sunday. For one play. Working out of the pistol, Manziel handed off to Terrance West on a read-option. West gained three yards, then starting quarterback Brian Hoyer returned for the next snap.
After New Orleans took a 17-16 lead, Manziel again replaced Hoyer mid-possession. The Browns moved the chains on a pair of Isaiah Crowell runs and Hoyer then ceded his spot to Manziel a second time. Two plays and three yards lost later -- Crowell was stuffed for minus-three on a carry, then fullback Ray Agnew dropped a pass from Manziel -- Cleveland again switched things up at quarterback. Hoyer promptly covered a 3rd-and-13 by hitting Gary Barnidge for 13 yards.
Hoyer and the Browns found the end zone to cap off that drive, with Terrance West taking it in from eight yards out.
All along, Browns head coach Mike Pettine has continued to maintain that Hoyer is his No. 1 quarterback, even promising that there would be no temptation to shuffle the depth chart.
"We have his back," said Pettine of Hoyer. "We didn't go with him and just say, 'Hey, listen. We might do this and see how it goes and after a series, we might switch it back.' I don't think you can do that, I know you can't do that at quarterback. It's not going to be a quick hook."
The veteran Hoyer started 2014 slowly last Sunday before orchestrating a brilliant rally against the Steelers. But after the Browns erased a 27-3 deficit to tie the game at 27, the offense stalled out again. Pittsburgh used a last-second field goal to secure the win.
Hoyer finished the opening two quarters with just 67 yards passing, but ultimately finished the game with 204 yards as the Browns upset the Saints 26-24.
Will Manziel's usage trend upward, even with Hoyer providing a steady hand? Time will tell.