BEREA, Ohio — There are advantages to playing two quarterbacks in the NFL. Just ask Browns safety Donte Whitner, who saw it work on one of his former teams.
With Johnny Manziel serving as Cleveland's backup quarterback to Brian Hoyer, coach Mike Pettine has hinted at developing an offensive package for the rookie first-round pick. The idea is not unlike what San Francisco did in 2012 before Colin Kaepernick eventually became the starter while Alex Smith was injured, leading the team to the Super Bowl.
Whitner was on the 49ers at the time and said that even if the package isn't used much in a game, simply making sure an opposing team has to prepare for two QBs can offer an advantage.
"With those words alone, they have to prepare," Whitner said. "They have to prepare for the option, they have to prepare for the read play and all of that. You're supposed to make them prepare for things even if you're not going to see it."
The extra work can lead to mistakes on other plays, Whitner said.
"Now you have to teach those defensive ends and those outside linebackers to slow down, to slow play certain things," he said. "We just want to make them take some time off of something else. Might mess up on something else on the offense by having to worry about the read option and Johnny being back there and being a mobile quarterback."
Pettine was the defensive coordinator for the Jets when they played the 49ers during that 2012 season. New York spent time preparing for Kaepernick and Smith before ultimately losing that game 34-0. Kaepernick threw one incomplete pass, but rushed for 50 yards and a score.
"It does have a big effect on your prep time," Pettine said. "And the hard part of it is you might only get a handful of plays from the other quarterback, but just the amount of time it takes to (prepare), because if you don't prepare for it, you have a chance to look very unprepared and give up some big plays."
Of course, a two-quarterback system requires its own amount of prep time for the team actually running the scheme, a fact not lost on Pettine.
"There is that positive to it, that you're forcing prep time," he said. "But the negative is that you're affecting your own continuity."
Cleveland's offense struggled in a 33-14 preseason loss to St. Louis on Saturday night. Hoyer completed 10 of 16 passes for 84 yards, but he also threw an ugly interception into traffic and fumbled on a strip-sack.
While Manziel is promising to do whatever is asked of him, Hoyer is trying to develop some continuity with the starters in preparation for the Sept. 7 season opener at Pittsburgh.
"Our problems aren't from lack of timing or anything like that. It's just consistency and going out there and doing it," Hoyer said. "I think the most frustrating part to us is that we do some things really well and then we shoot ourselves in the foot."
NOTES: The Browns placed OL Nick McDonald on the reserve/non-football injury list, putting their roster at 75 players. ... WR Josh Gordon continued to practice while he waits to hear from the NFL regarding his appeal of a possible yearlong suspension for again violating the league's substance-abuse program. . TE Jordan Cameron returned to practice after being excused Monday. . CB Joe Haden (foot) remained out. ... The Browns placed OL Michael Bowie and LB Darius Eubanks on injured reserve. Both underwent shoulder surgeries earlier this month. . LB Chris Kirksey was voted by reporters as the winner of the Maurice Bassett Award, given to the best rookie in training camp.