BEREA — A day after owner Jimmy Haslam expressed disappointment in rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel’s offseason of partying, general manager Ray Farmer complimented Manziel’s commitment to football.
“I’ve seen a young man that came back, that appears to be prepared for competition and I think that’s what we want — guys that took the time to come back and demonstrate that they’re ready to compete to be starters in this league,” Farmer said this afternoon after the second practice of training camp. “Everybody here wants to play. Anytime you’re on the football team, you want to play, you want to play as much as you can. So we’ll see that lies in the building, he’s putting forth the work to try to be the starter.”
Farmer met with Manziel to discuss the off-the-field issues but wouldn’t reveal the specifics. Farmer was well-informed before the draft that Manziel liked to have a good time.
“Yes, I did know his off-the-field prowess, if you will, that everybody’s kind of alluding to,” Farmer said. “And I think like Johnny said, like Jimmy Haslam said, like Pet (coach Mike Pettine) has said, he’s made his mistakes and that’s that.
“Our focus now is what happens on the field. He’s focused, he’s committed on football, he’s doing his thing here in the building and we’re excited about kinda where he’s at at the moment.”
The Browns traded up four spots to take Manziel with the No. 22 pick. During the run-up to the draft and after he was selected, Manziel talked about leaving the “Johnny Football” persona behind and shifting his focus to football.
“I will tell you that before the draft there were numerous conversations with people in the building, people outside the building, people including Johnny himself,” Farmer said. “But all those conversations culminated in obviously we had a comfort level when we drafted him. If we thought that was an excessive nature of what it was going to be, then we would’ve never picked him.”
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
Guard Jason Pinkston wasn’t on the field for the second straight day, and the reason remains unclear.
“Pinkston’s unavailable to practice, and due to the circumstances I cannot comment on it any further,” Pettine said. “I want to give you more, but given the circumstances I can’t.”
Pettine wouldn’t answer when asked if the reason was Pinkston’s health. He said he couldn’t give a timeline for a return, then was asked if Pinkston will be return at all.
“It’s a possibility,” Pettine said.
Pinkston offered only a touch of clarity in a tweet.
“I can assure you I’m in no legal trouble & retiring hasn’t came up,” he tweeted. “As far as my situation I’ll leave it to them to explain — pink.”
Pinkston, who’s in his fourth year, missed 10 games in 2012 after a blood clot lodged in his lung. He was limited to three games last year after opening the season on injured reserve/designated to return with a high ankle sprain.
Brian Hoyer was the clear winner on Day 2 of the quarterback competition.
Hoyer was fluid and sharp all practice, and the ball only hit the ground a couple of times. The highlights were a 55-yard post to Taylor Gabriel behind free safety Tashaun Gipson, a 45-yarder to Anthony Armstrong, an out to Andrew Hawkins and a deep in to Hawkins.
On the flipside, Manziel struggled after a decent start Saturday. He one-hopped a couple of throws, failed to get a handoff to Dion Lewis, badly overthrew Jonathan Krause on a post and was nearly intercepted on a high pass over the middle.
Manziel also had to make a wardrobe change.
He opened the morning in blinding neon yellow cleats, but was quickly told to change. Pettine said team policy is to wear team-issued equipment.
Fullback MarQueis Gray was activated after failing the conditioning test Friday.
Left tackle Joe Thomas rested. Pettine said it’s part of the plan to keep the veteran fresh.
Defensive linemen Phil Taylor and Billy Winn, tight end Gary Barnidge, guard John Greco, linebacker Tank Carder, offensive lineman Nick McDonald, receiver Chandler Jones and kicker/punter Jake Rogers didn’t practice due to injury.
Rookie running back Isaiah Crowell switched from No. 30 to 34.