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A handy post-draft rundown of teams needing quarterbacks

Philadelphia Eagles v Tennessee Titans Getty Images

Supply and demand drove the price of quarterbacks too high in this draft.  That doesn’t mean the demand has satisfied.

While seven quarterbacks were taken in the first three rounds, two of them were taken by teams with established starters.  (Jacksonville and New England.)   The Bengals took Andy Dalton, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily give up on Carson Palmer.

Plenty of teams that had no legitimate quarterback option before the draft are even more desperate now.  And many of the teams that took a rookie quarterback early will still be looking for veterans.   Here’s a quick rundown:

Buffalo: It looks like they’ll ride or die with Ryan Fitzpatrick.   But coach Chan Gailey says they’ll look to add another QB to the roster.

Arizona: They didn’t take a quarterback, increasing speculation they will go hard after Kevin Kolb.  Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger could also be options.  John Skelton sits atop the depth chart for now.

49ers: Jim Harbaugh wants to bring Alex Smith back, but it’s uncertain if Smith will want to be the bridge to Colin Kaepernick.

Titans: They surprised everyone by taking Jake Locker.  Now they just need a veteran quarterback to play before Locker is ready.   Vince Young will be booted, and Kerry Collins is unlikely to be back.

Vikings: Taking Christian Ponder won’t quiet any Donovan McNabb speculation.

Redskins:  They surprisingly didn’t show any interest in bringing in a rookie.  Would you believe they like John Beck?

Dolphins: They want to give Chad Henne another shot, but also want to give him competition.  Look for them to try to acquire Carson Palmer.  That could be tough to pull off.

Seahawks: Like the Cardinals, they are a complete mess at the position.  They don’t have a youngster or a legitimate veteran.  They will try to keep Hasselbeck, but could also compete with the Cards to acquire Kolb.

In short, it remains a seller’s market.

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PFT Live: Emmitt Smith, Week Nine picks

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The Cowboys have the league’s most productive running back in DeMarco Murray and find themselves in first place in the NFC East at the halfway point in the season.

Having the league’s top back and being one of the league’s top teams went hand in hand when Emmitt Smith was toting the rock in Dallas, which makes it a good time to check in with the Hall of Famer to see what he thinks about his old team. Smith will join Mike Florio on Thursday’s edition of PFT Live to share his thoughts about Murray, the Cowboys and this weekend’s matchup with the Cardinals, who happen to be another former employer of Smith’s.

That Cowboys-Cardinals game is the biggest in the NFC this weekend, although it probably can’t knock Broncos-Patriots from the top spot among all games. Florio and MDS will share their picks for those two games and all the rest of the action from Week Nine during Thursday’s show.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.

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C.J. Mosley named defensive rookie of the month

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The Ravens were looking for a new inside linebacker to anchor their defense when they selected C.J. Mosley in the first round of this year’s draft and the early returns have been good.

Mosley has started all eight games of his brief NFL career and has helped the Ravens allow the second fewest points of any team in the league. The NFL found his play in October to be impressive enough to name him the league’s defensive rookie of the month.

Mosley had 42 tackles in four games in October, good for third best in the entire league, and led the Ravens in tackles in three of their four games. He also had two interceptions, which leaves him in an unexpected tie with defensive tackle Haloti Ngata for the team lead in interceptions through the first two months of the regular season.

Should Mosley keep it up in the second half of the season, the defense should remain one of the stingiest in the league and he’ll have a good chance of reaching the playoffs in his first year as a professional player

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Sammy Watkins is the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month

Watkins Getty Images

Fully aware that new owners may choose to go in a new direction, current Bills management went all in on draft day, trading a first-round pick and a fifth-round pick in 2015 for the ability to move up five spots in the draft and select receiver Sammy Watkins.

In the same month that Terry and Kim Pegula became the new owners of the franchise, Watkins secured the NFL’s offensive rookie of the month award.

The first Bills player ever to be named offensive rookie of the month, Watkins made the game-winning touchdown catch against the Vikings in Week Seven.  He also had two 100-yard receiving games in October, and his 20-yard catch with 21 seconds remaining against the Lions helped set up the game-winning field goal.  Watkins’ effort to catch a ball that had been thrown behind him also may have prevented an interception that would have caused the Bills to lose.

Against the Jets on Sunday, Watkins generated 157 on only three catches, including a 61-yard touchdown and an 84-yard catch and run that ended with a premature touchdown celebration.

Far more importantly than any individual prizes, the Bills are 5-3 at the bye week.  Which puts them in good position to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their most recent playoff berth by getting back to the postseason.

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DeMarco Murray is NFC offensive player of the month, again

DeMarco Murray AP

Two months into the season, Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has won two NFC offensive player of the month awards.

The NFL announced today that Murray is the player of the month for October. He was also the player of the month for September. Murray has been nothing if not consistent: He had 520 rushing yards in October and 534 rushing yards in September and has gained between 100 and 167 rushing yards in every game this year.

With 1,054 yards this season, Murray is leading the league by nearly 300 yards and is on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season record of 2,105 rushing yards.

Murray is in good company by winning his second straight player of the month award: The only two other running backs to win back-to-back NFC offensive player of the month awards were Barry Sanders in 1997 and Emmitt Smith in 1992.

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Everson Griffen wins NFC defensive player of month award

Griffen Getty Images

October was a pretty good month for the Vikings’ front office.  Twenty-five years after the failed Herschel Walker trade, the Vikings have seen first-round picks Anthony Barr and Teddy Bridgewater begin to blossom.  Likewise, Seattle’s decision to give receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a bowl of room-temperature gazpacho validates Minnesota’s no-intent deal that brought in a first-round pick, a third-round pick, and a seventh-round pick for a guy who no longer wanted to be there and they no longer wanted.

Now, the player on whom they took the biggest gamble in 2014 free agency has been named the NFC defensive player of the month.

Defensive end Everson Griffen, whose $42.5 million contract was based largely on potential and not production, racked up six sacks in four October games.  He has 8.0 sacks in eight games, putting him third in the league and first among all defensive ends.

He’s the first Viking to win the award since the guy he replaced, Jared Allen, did it in 2011.

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Tom Brady named AFC offensive player of the month

Tom Brady AP

A month ago, there were people wondering if Tom Brady was too old.

Those people are getting hard to find at the moment.

The Patriots quarterback was named AFC offensive player of the month after four straight standout games.

Brady had a 129.1 passer rating, with 1,268 yards and 14 touchdowns, leading the Patriots to four wins.

Of course, the next game will be a showdown at several levels, as he’s facing off against old foe Peyton Manning, but also the AFC’s defensive player of the month in Broncos linebacker Von Miller.

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Von Miller’s sack streak leads to AFC defensive player of the month

Philip Rivers, Von Miller AP

The weather is starting to cool, and Von Miller is just heating up.

The Broncos linebacker was named AFC defensive player of the month for October after a dominating string of performances.

Miller had 7.0 sacks during the month, which led all NFL players. He’s working on a streak of six consecutive games with a sack.

More importantly, he’s helped the Broncos to a 4-0 record over the last month, as the defense has done its part to help quarterback Peyton Manning and an offense that is just assumed to be handling its business.

The Broncos have allowed 258.8 yards per game over the last four, the best mark in the league over that stretch.

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Chris Johnson is “frustrated” with diminished Jets role

New York Jets v New England Patriots AP

Jets running back Chris Johnson has something in common with Jets fans.

He’s “frustrated” with the way things are going.

The artist formerly known as CJ2K is on pace for about half a K this season, with just 268 yards on 67 carries with one touchdown.

Of course I’m frustrated,” Johnson told Brian Costello of the New York Post on Wednesday. “On top of having a limited role, not playing as much as I want to play and then on top of that we’re 1-7. It’s frustrating.”

Chris Ivory has emerged as the Jets’ lead back, and Johnson has played in just 34 percent of their offensive snaps this season. That number’s getting smaller, as he played just 16 of 84 (19 percent) in the blowout loss to the Bills.

To his credit, he hasn’t really complained (until now).

“I don’t want to be a distraction in the locker room,” Johnson said. “This situation, I’m pretty sure just like I see it, everybody else sees it. I don’t want to be labeled as one of those guys who start controversy or start problems. I just continue to pray about the situation and continue to take advantage when I get opportunities and see what comes of it.”

At this stage, he could throw a fit or go on a hunger strike, and he’d be so far down the list of distractions the Jets might not even notice.

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Taylor Lewan pleads guilty to two misdemeanors

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Since he was accused of hitting an Ohio State fan after his final home game at Michigan 11 months ago, Taylor Lewan has insisted he was innocent. Now he has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors in connection with the incident.

Lewan, who was the Titans’ first-round draft pick this year and is a starting offensive tackle, entered guilty pleas today to charges of disturbing the peace and being drunk and disorderly. He is scheduled for sentencing on December 15 and is expected to get probation.

The guilty plea is part of a deal with prosecutors. Lewan originally faced charges on one count of aggravated assault, and two counts of assault and battery.

Lewan is not expected to face NFL discipline, as the league generally does not impose discipline for crimes committed by players before they got to the NFL.

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Nate Washington: Mettenberger has better understanding of NFL than Roethlisberger did

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Wide receiver Nate Washington entered the NFL with the Steelers in 2005, where he became teammates with second-year quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Washington is now in Tennessee and playing with rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who made his first start against Houston last week. Washington liked what he saw from Mettenberger and compared him favorably to Roethlisberger in terms of NFL readiness on Wednesday while also getting in a little dig at the Titans running game.

“I will comment and say that I don’t think Ben coming in is the same as Zach Mettenberger. At this stage he’s at now, I think Zach understands the NFL a little more than maybe Ben did at that time, but the thing that Ben had at that time that was maybe a little more beneficial was he had an outstanding running game,” Washington said, via Terry McCormick of 247Sports.com. “He had that run game and everything that he had to do was built off our run game, whether it was play action, or whatever else it was, it gave Ben an opportunity to go out and be adjustable to whatever the game was, whereas Zach we’re kind of throwing him out there and saying, ‘We know you’re capable of showing your arm and your ability.’ That’s the leeway I think they’re kind of giving him.”

Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt was also in Pittsburgh early in Roethlisberger’s career and said only that every quarterback has different strengths that coaches need to take advantage of in their game plans.

Roethlisberger obviously developed well beyond the player that Washington describes and Mettenberger has a long way to go before any serious comparisons between the two players can be made. Should the understanding that Washington’s seen translate onto the field, that will change and the Titans will likely have their quarterback for many years to come.

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Panthers forced to resort to Canadian rookie at left tackle

Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers Getty Images

The Panthers were hoping they might be able to stash David Foucault on the practice squad this year.

Instead, he’s starting at left tackle for the Panthers tonight against the Saints.

This is hardly the situation they envisioned, when mainstay Jordan Gross announced his retirement this offseason. The plan was to shift Byron Bell over to Gross’s spot, and he’s been up and down this year. Now he’s hurt. The originally planned swing tackle Garry Williams is also on IR again.

This is the situation we’re in,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “It’s not like we said, ‘Hey, you know what? When we get to Week Nine, why don’t we put the kid out there at left tackle?’”

This will be Foucault’s first start since last year’s Coupe Dunsmore, when his Université de Montréal Carabins lost to Quebec’s Collège Laval last November. He was the fifth overall pick in the CFL Draft, but turned it down for a camp invite south of the border.

 

The 6-foot-8, 305-pound Foucault (pronounced FOO-koh) has impressed coaches with his frame and work ethic, but he’s obviously raw. Naturally, he was a hockey player growing up, who didn’t take up football until he was a teenager.

Also, he will be starting next to a more conventional undrafted rookie, Andrew Norwell of Ohio State, which could make any remake of The Blind Side a horror movie for Cam Newton.

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PFT’s Week Nine picks

Brady AP

Last week was a good week.  For me.  Not for MDS.

We disagreed on two games, and my faith in the Steelers and Saints finally paid off.

So that five-game lead MDS enjoyed has shrinked/shrunk/shrunken/whatever to three.  And we disagree on three games this week.  They also happen to be the biggest three games of the week.

Last week, I went 10-5 and MDS finished 8-7.  For the year, he’s now at 78-43 (64.4 percent) and I’m at 75-46 (61.9 percent).

Saints at Panthers

MDS’s take: Someone has to win the NFC South, and it will probably be this game’s winners, who will be the only team in the division with a .500 record. I think the Saints’ offense will move the ball well in Carolina and make a big statement that New Orleans is the team to beat in the South.

MDS’s pick: Saints 31, Panthers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Saints can’t lose at home, can’t win on the road.  This could be the moment where the latter trend ends (at least for now), with New Orleans chasing a big win over the Packers with a trip to face a so-so team with an offensive line rattled by injuries.

Florio’s pick:  Saints 27, Panthers 23.

Jaguars at Bengals

MDS’s take: Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles just makes far too many mistakes. He’s not ready, and the Jaguars’ coaches know he’s not ready, but they felt they had no choice but to play him because Chad Henne got off to such a bad start this year. Look for Bortles to continue to struggle and the Jaguars to continue to lose.

MDS’s pick: Bengals 30, Jaguars 10.

Florio’s takeA.J. Green is back, a week after the Bengals found a way to win without him.  It will be even easier against a team with only one win.

Florio’s pick:  Bengals 27, Jaguars 10.

Buccaneers at Browns

MDS’s take: The Browns may not be as good as their 4-3 record suggests, but the Bucs are every bit as bad as their 1-6 record suggests. Cleveland will get to five wins at the halfway point, which represents major progress considering the mess new coach Mike Pettine inherited.

MDS’s pick: Browns 22, Buccaneers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Browns avoided a second-straight loss to a winless team.  They now have to guard against a loss to a one-win team.  It won’t be easy, but the Browns are starting to learn how to win the games they’re supposed to.

Florio’s pick:  Browns 24, Buccaneers 16.

Cardinals at Cowboys

MDS’s take: I wish I knew for sure when picking this game whether or not Tony Romo will play, but even if Romo can’t play I lean toward the Cowboys controlling things offensively thanks to their great offensive line and MVP candidate DeMarco Murray.

MDS’s pick: Cowboys 21, Cardinals 20.

Florio’s take:  The Cardinals haven’t gotten nearly the respect they deserve.  That ends here.  Despite the injuries, the suspension, the defections, and the Super Bowl hosting jinx, the Cardinals keep winning.  With or without Tony Romo, the Cardinals will be ready to do something they haven’t done since the 1998 playoffs — outscore the Cowboys in Dallas.

Florio’s pick:  Cardinals 21, Cowboys 17.

Eagles at Texans

MDS’s take: Interceptions are piling up for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, which is a major concern in Philadelphia considering that the Texans have a strong pass defense. But I’m not sold on the Texans’ offense putting many points on the board, and I’ll pick the Eagles to win a close, low-scoring game.

MDS’s pick: Eagles 14, Texans 13.

Florio’s take:  The Philly offensive line is getting a little healthier, just in time for J.J. Watt and company.  After nearly toppling the Cardinals in Arizona, the Eagles go to Houston and drag the Texans under .500, where based on the overall talent of the team they belong.

Florio’s pick:  Eagles 27, Texans 17.

Jets at Chiefs

MDS’s take: At this point I’m not sure that it much matters whether Michael Vick or Geno Smith is the Jets’ starter. The Jets aren’t going to win with either quarterback, especially on the road against a solid team like the Chiefs.

MDS’s pick: Chiefs 31, Jets 20.

Florio’s take:  How did the Chiefs lose the Titans in Week One?  Eventually, we also may be asking how the Jets beat the Raiders that same day.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 30, Jets 13.

Chargers at Dolphins

MDS’s take: The Dolphins’ defense is a lot better than most people realize, but I still like Philip Rivers to play well enough to earn a hard-fought road win in a game that will have significant implications for the AFC wild card race.

MDS’s pick: Chargers 21, Dolphins 20.

Florio’s take:  The Chargers are due to win.  The Dolphins are due to lose.  Sometimes, it’s just that easy.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 28, Dolphins 21.

Washington at Vikings

MDS’s take: Neither of these teams is very good, but both of them are coming off overtime wins and will be motivated to show that they’re not dead yet in the NFC playoff race. I’m going with the Vikings, who are starting to play defense the way Mike Zimmer wants to see.

MDS’s pick: Vikings 17, Washington 7.

Florio’s take:  RGIII returns, but is that a good thing?  He looked mediocre before dislocating his ankle, and now he’s rusty.  He’ll also be pressing to make fans forget about a couple of critical wins from Colt McCoy.  Meanwhile, the Vikings have some winnable games down the stretch; if they can get to 4-5, things can get interesting in December.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 20, Washington 17.

Rams at 49ers

MDS’s take: Looking ahead at the 49ers’ schedule, their path to the playoffs is not an easy one. These are the games the 49ers need to win if they’re going to be a playoff team. They’ll win this one.

MDS’s pick: 49ers 24, Rams 20.

Florio’s take:  The 49ers are rested and motivated to keep up with the Cardinals, who are close to running away with the NFC West.  The Rams won’t be pushovers, but San Fran needs this one too badly to blow it.

Florio’s pick:  49ers 27, Rams 20.

Broncos at Patriots

MDS’s take: The Patriots have really turned things around recently and are probably the second-best team in the AFC right now. Unfortunately, the best team in the AFC is coming to town. Denver’s offense will put up big numbers and win more easily than most people are expecting.

MDS’s pick: Broncos 34, Patriots 20.

Florio’s take:  In fifteen prior Brady-Manning contests, the home team is 10-5.  The Broncos would win easily in Denver.  The Pats find a way to prevail in Foxboro.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 27, Broncos 24.

Raiders at Seahawks

MDS’s take: I still think there are some questions about the Seahawks on both sides of the ball, but they’ll cruise to an easy win at home over the worst team in the league.

MDS’s pick: Seahawks 33, Raiders 20.

Florio’s take:  Nothing helps a dysfunctional team get back on track than facing a way more dysfunctional opponent.

Florio’s pick:  Seahawks 34, Raiders 13.

Ravens at Steelers

MDS’s take: This game will be closer than their Week Two meeting, but the Ravens will complete the season sweep of the Steelers.

MDS’s pick: Ravens 24, Steelers 17.

Florio’s take:  The Steelers cap a three-game home stand with a win that keeps them very much alive for the division title.  A loss would put them, as a practical matter, three games behind the Ravens with seven to play.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Ravens 10.

Colts at Giants

MDS’s take: Ahmad Bradshaw returns to face his old team and should have a big game against a Giants run defense that hasn’t been particularly good this year. The Colts will bounce back from last week’s ugly loss.

MDS’s pick: Colts 30, Giants 20.

Florio’s take:  The Giants fully intend to make a run.  It’ll have to wait at least a week.  After giving up 51 in Pittsburgh, the Colts will be ready to go back to New York (sort of) 56 years after the greatest game ever played and edge the Giants, again.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 23, Giants 17.

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Mark Barron wasn’t a fan of Lovie Smith’s defense

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

When the Buccaneers traded former seventh overall pick Mark Barron to the Rams for a pair of draft picks this week, it was easy to say that Barron being a poor fit for the defense run by head coach Lovie Smith was the chief reason for the move.

Barron did nothing to defuse that notion on Wednesday when discussing the deal with the media for the first time. While Barron said he enjoyed his time in Tampa, he also said that he felt Smith’s defense didn’t let him take full advantage of his aggressiveness.

“Yeah, it is passive,” Barron said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “That’s kind of the only thing I didn’t like about it a lot of times. I had to sit back and I couldn’t really be as aggressive as I wanted to in that system. So yeah, I would most definitely say that.”

Barron had his issues in Greg Schiano’s system as well, so he’s yet to find a perfect fit at the NFL. It may be a while before we find out if things will be better for him in St. Louis. The team had an abbreviated practice Wednesday because coach Jeff Fisher wanted to rest the many players on the team battling injuries and the coach said he wasn’t yet sure exactly how or when he’ll use Barron.

“We’ll find a way to fit him into our system at some point. I don’t know whether that’s a week or six weeks or next year. But we need depth at the position and we’re banged up a little bit,” Fisher said. “I spoke with him [Tuesday] night after we put the deal together. Obviously he was surprised and shocked but excited about a new start. He’s got a lot of catching up to do. I think he’s going to be, in time, a very good player for us.”

The Rams play the 49ers this weekend and it’s not known whether Barron will be in uniform.

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Torrey Smith sees some good in Vontaze Burfict

Burfict AP

After a pair of WWE-style toe holds against the Panthers earlier this month, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict instantly became known as the dirtiest player in pro football.  Ravens receiver Torrey Smith agrees with that sentiment, with a caveat.

During the third quarter of Sunday’s game at Cincinnati, Smith ran a slant route from the “X” position on the left side of the field. But receiver Marlon Brown had come in motion, filling the slot between Smith and the left tackle. Bengals cornerback Leon Hall had followed Brown; when Smith made his move to the inside he ran into Hall.  Their helmets collided.

Smith was stunned, and he bent over and put his hands on his legs. Meanwhile, the ball had been thrown. The guy covering Smith, Bengals receiver Adam Jones, intercepted it.

After the interception, Smith was still standing there while Bengals players joined the convoy, looking for Ravens to block. Burfict saw Smith, shoving him half-heartedly before approaching Smith in a way that suggested concern for him.

It could have been a lot worse watching the video,” Smith told Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s the one time. As a dirty of a player as I think he is — he’s a heck of a player — he’s a dirty one, too.  He definitely held up. He has some good to him.”

Smith also explained that he wasn’t going to try to avoid the concussion protocol after taking a blow to the head.

“It was a flash for me,” Smith said. “Some people were like, ‘Well, if there was a flash, it was bright, you had a concussion.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not playing around with a concussion. I passed my physical test. They had that little iPad thing that you do. I was fine. They kind of left it up for me, and I felt fine. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have went back out there for those few plays. I don’t want to be 50 years old and not know what’s going on with my kids and my grandkids.”

That’s the right attitude for players to have regarding concussions. Hopefully, more will behave that way moving forward.

Hopefully, the good that Smith saw in Burfict will be something other than an aberration.

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Johnny Manziel has been freelancing with the scout team

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

Many figured that Johnny Manziel would be on the field for the Browns by now.

Apparently, that number included Manziel, who is getting a little antsy on the bench behind utterly sufficient Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Safety Donte Whitner said he could see Manziel getting frustrated, but not in a destructive way.

“We talk back and forth and joke back and forth, and still, he wants to get out there and play,” Whitner said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s one of the biggest competitors on this football team. He wants to get out there and run around and make plays for this team and have something to feel good about when he leaves the stadium.

“He should already, being a backup quarterback and helping Brian as much as he can. [But] he still wants to get out there and make the plays.”

Toward that end, sometimes Manziel will improvise in practice, rather than running the tightly scripted scout team offense.

“Yeah, he does that sometimes where they’ll draw it on the card where they want him to throw it and he’ll see a corner sitting right there waiting on the interception — or a safety — because the coaches have talked to us and taught us in the meeting what to take away,” Whitner said. “And then he won’t throw it in there and he’ll run around and throw it down the field sometimes and make us frustrated as defensive backs and make them frustrated. But that’s what a mobile quarterback can do to you.

“They make you frustrated and that’s why he had the success he had at A&M and that’s why I believe that if he gets out there in the National Football League, he’ll be able to run around and make some plays.”

Manziel hasn’t seen the field since the illegal reception from Hoyer against Baltimore in week three, and coach Mike Pettine has seen the frustration as well. But with Hoyer playing acceptably and Browns having a winning record, now’s probably not the time to make the switch or do too much to accommodate him.

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