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Pittsburgh Steelers preparing as if Johnny Manziel will play Sunday

Eric Edholm
Shutdown Corner
Steelers take on familiar face in Browns' Hoyer
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Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) warms up as Brian Hoyer (6) watches before a preseason NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The Cleveland Browns have named Brian Hoyer their starting quarterback. But that doesn't mean Johnny Manziel can't play in Week 1.

Just to be safe, the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for both, head coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. Tomlins expects the Browns to play both quarterbacks "in some capacity" when the Steelers host the rival Browns in Sunday's season opener, via USA Today Sports.

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"We have a great deal of respect for Johnny Manziel and his talents and what he did to get to this point in his career," Tomlin said. "We fully expect them to utilize him in some capacity in this football game. They didn't draft him in the first round to watch. ... We understand that.

"So we're going through the process of preparing ourselves for both guys."

Manziel lost the starting competition with a so-so preseason performance, although Hoyer was not much better until the battle had been won. And even though the more mobile Manziel offers different skills than Hoyer does, Tomlin said he doesn't believe that his defense will be set back by having to prepare for two different styles.

"Obviously, Manziel has some unique run skills and capabilities I think they're capable of highlighting," Tomlin said. "I don't believe that because I believe all the things they're going to potentially ask (Manziel) to do Brian Hoyer is fully capable of doing it as well.

"I just think when you have a talent like Johnny Manziel, you're going to get him on the field and help him grow and develop."

That would be fascinating to see. Would it undercut Hoyer if Manziel came in and rallied the Browns offensively? Could Manziel overtake Hoyer if he dramatically outplays him on the field? And how early — if at all — might Manziel enter the game?

Browns head coach Mike Pettine had hinted at the possibility of a "Manziel package" where the first-round pick moonlights for a series or two with plays that highlight his ability to make plays on the fly and freelance when things break down around him.

The Steelers have a rookie starting at linebacker for the first time in more than a decade in Ryan Shazier. It could be interesting to see if Shazier, with his great speed and range, is asked to "spy" Manziel if he does make an appearance in Sunday's game. 

Suddenly, what might have been a somewhat blah game now has some added intrigue.

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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