It’s always something with Johnny Manziel, and the latest is an arm/elbow soreness issue that Browns coach Mike Pettine said last week was minor — and the next day Pettine announced the Browns were shutting Manziel down for the preseason.
Manziel hasn’t thrown in more than a week, but Tuesday he told reporters he is only battling tendinitis in his throwing elbow and said, “I’m not worried about it all.”
The issue will end up keeping Manziel from two valuable preseason games, and Pettine said last week that Manziel would have played with the No. 1 offense for the first time this summer in last Saturday’s preseason game had he been healthy. Pettine has been firm that Josh McCown is the team’s starting quarterback.
Manziel said the elbow soreness is something he’s dealt with every year since he got to Texas A&M in 2011 and that it generally gets better past training camp because quarterbacks are asked to make fewer throws once the regular season begins. He said he’s sought multiple opinions on his tendinitis, including having the team’s medical staff reach out to Dr. James Andrews, and that surgery was never recommended.
The Browns have to be as certain as Manziel is that he will be available for next week and the Sept. 13 season opener. Thad Lewis will start Thursday’s preseason finale and try to make a strong enough impression to win a roster spot in the process; if there’s concern about Manziel being able to serve as McCown’s backup, the Browns almost have to keep Lewis when the team trims the roster to the regular-season size of 53 this weekend.
Unless McCown can lead the Browns to a bunch of wins, Manziel will eventually get a shot to play this season and try to give the team a better showing than he did in basically seven quarters last season. But he has to be healthy first, and then he’ll have to prove he can be worth the wait.