Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel got plenty of first-team reps during offseason workouts. He won’t be getting any in training camp, at least not initially.
“He will get reps with the ones at some point,” coach Mike Pettine told Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com. “But early on . . . we only talked about how we would handle things very early in camp and then make that assessment after the first off day and then have a plan for the scrimmage [on August 2]. We’ll see where he is coming out of the summer.”
The summer break began with Manziel defiantly saying at the Rookie Symposium that he won’t be changing his off-field ways for anyone. Grossi asked Pettine whether he was surprised by that. But Pettine seems to still be OK with Johnny Football being Johnny Vegas or Johnny Rolled-Up-Hundy or Johnny Whatever when he’s off the clock.
“Yeah, but I think it still needs to get to a point where if it’s affecting his job, that he’s in a situation where he goes out and has a good time, are there other players in the NFL that do that? Absolutely,” Pettine said. “But his persona, and it’s a phenomenon, has created something where people seek those photographs and are very eager to put them out. Does he go out more than some guys? Maybe. But he’s young and that’s his lifestyle and it is the offseason. If this is a pattern during the season and it is affecting his work, then that’s much more cause for concern. . . . To me, his life as an NFL player truly starts now and he’ll be judged on that. And if we get the hint that there’s behaviors affecting his work or there’s criminal activity then absolutely there’s cause for concern.
And that’s precisely why the NFL should quit testing guys for recreational drugs, especially in the offseason. Teams don’t care about what a guy does unless and until it affects his job or his freedom (which in turn affects his ability to show up for his job). If the individual teams don’t care about anything more than that, why does the collection of 32 teams care?
Of course, Pettine does indeed have a concern about the photo of Manziel tightly rolling up a piece of paper money. Pettine confirmed to Grossi that player and coach talked about it.
“I felt very positive coming out of the conversation and I’m very confident moving forward, now that it’s 100 percent about football, that it will be much less of an issue,” Pettine said.
If it’s truly 100 percent football, it shouldn’t be an issue at all. And if Manziel hopes to be like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, it needs to be 100 percent football far more often than when it’s football season.
And when football season starts, it currently appears Manziel will be on the bench. Pettine admitted that his goal of naming a starter sooner than later favors Brian Hoyer.