Countdown to season opener: How Browns are preparing for Steelers

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BEREA– The Cleveland Browns returned to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon as they prepare to open the season on the road for just the second time since 1999.

The Browns will face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers who own a 3-2 record against the Browns on opening day.

Sunday will officially kick off the Mike Pettine era in Cleveland. Pettine took some time at the start of the week to share a little history with the whole team, particularly, the young players on what the Browns-Steelers rivalry means. He was quick to point out it that it may not appear to be a rivalry for the Steelers who have dominated the series since the Browns returned to the league in 1999.

“I believe in the personnel that we have. I believe in the scheme that we play. I believe in the guys in this locker room and that is why I think it will be different this year,” said safety Donte Whitner.

“Mindset, mindset is going to be totally different. You can feel it. You walk into the locker room, you can feel it. You walk onto the field, you can feel it. It’s going to be fun,” said linebacker Karlos Dansby.

Brian Hoyer enters the season as the starting quarterback for the first time in his career. Shortly after being named the starter, head coach Mike Pettine met with the signal caller to tell him that this was his team, his offense and that everyone had his back.

He also told Hoyer that there wouldn’t be a quick hook, meaning Hoyer could settle in and not have to worry about looking over his shoulder after every single snap.
“When he named me the starter he said I just want you to go out there and be yourself,” said Hoyer. “I think for me that is how my mentality is, regardless. This is something I’ve worked towards and I’m not looking back.”

Earlier in the day, former Steelers player Merril Hoge made headlines in Cleveland for what he said about back-up quarterback Johnny Manziel. Hoge appeared on 102.5 WDVE radio in Pittsburgh and said Manziel had no business being on the field. Hoge ripped the Browns for taking Manziel 22nd overall in the May’s NFL Draft. “He really had no business being drafted in the first round,” Hoge said. “When I was doing the draft and I was going through and studying him, I actually got done and it’s the first time, aside from when Tim Tebow came out, there’s nothing, nothing he does that transitions to the National Football League. There’s not one skill set he had where you say ‘Gosh he’s a first-rounder.’ Really nothing.”

Mike Pettine responded during his media availabilty to Hoge’s comments. “I just know in the age we are in, of sensationalism that a lot of times people that want to be heard have to make bold statements in order to bring attention to themselves,” Pettine said. “I think that is something that is a regular occurrence in this league.”

The Browns and Steelers open the season this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Heinz Field.

Stay with FOX 8 News and FOX8.com for complete coverage leading up to the big game.