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Brian Hoyer aches to be turned loose

What might seem like a same old offseason practice to some is a lot more meaningful to quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Not only is Hoyer coming back from knee surgery, he has to hold off the certain challenge that arose when the Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Manziel.

Every snap Hoyer misses could be a chance for the guy trying to take his job.

Which is why Hoyer has been nearly begging the Browns to let him go full speed on every organized team activity drill as the offseason winds down. It's tough not to think of Hoyer pouring coach Mike Pettine's coffee in the morning, waxing Ray Farmer's car ... all as he tries to get on the field full-go for every drill.

"The argument is OTAs, are they really that important?" Hoyer said. "For me they are. This isn't my third year in this offense. I'm trying to get out there and read plays that I haven't ever run before."

Hoyer tore his ACL in a win over the Buffalo Bills last October, an injury that changed the fortunes of many with the Browns -- including Manziel as well as former coach Rob Chudzinski and Pettine. Had Hoyer stayed healthy and played the way he had been, Manziel might not be in Cleveland, Chudzinski may be and Pettine may still be in Buffalo.

None of that happened of course, and now Hoyer is being held back on some drills in 11-on-11 work.

"We call it Spartan Mode," Pettine said. "Where the line plays run, takes a couple steps and stops, just to kind of keep bodies from being around him."

The Browns don't want an accident taking Hoyer out of the picture. Another injury could result if somebody falls, slips or is blocked into Hoyer.

Hoyer gets it, but asks: Won't the same be true in a month?

Because that's when training camp opens, and at that point Hoyer is expected to be given carte blanche.

"I just think from a risk-reward standpoint it just doesn't make a lot of sense to expose him at this point," Pettine said, though no final decision has been made.

Hoyer has no physical limitations. He's attacked his rehab with ferocity. He's throwing well, moving well. He's just not getting as many reps as he'd like.

He admits the New England Patriots stole some of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's plays, so he knows some of them from his time backing up Tom Brady. But he doesn't know them all -- and he doesn't know them as well as he'd like. "I want to make the mistakes in OTAs, not when we're in training camp," he said. "I want to have the read down."

It's a complicated situation for him and the team, complicated by injury and competition.

"You never want to see someone else doing your job," Hoyer said. "I think that's the biggest thing for me. I feel like I'm ready, and I know a lot of people who come back from this injury talk about the mental aspect. I think I've conquered that months ago.

"I know that they said this is the best thing in my interest and for the team. As the competitor in me, I want to be out there with my guys calling the plays."