July 23, 2016

Mostly clear

Browns Notes: Johnny Manziel at ease as backup quarterback, but eager to help team

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel watches the preseason game against the Rams from the bench Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel watches the preseason game against the Rams from the bench Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

BEREA — Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is comfortable in his role as the backup to Brian Hoyer.

But with that said, the rookie from Texas A&M would love to see some action when Cleveland opens its regular season in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.

“I would be extremely excited to get on the field and help this offense in any way I can,” Manziel said Tuesday following practice. “Whatever is put on my plate or asked of me, I’m absolutely happy to do it.”

Browns coach Mike Pettine has indicated that the team will design a limited number of plays for “Johnny Football” as a change-of-pace option during games.

Just how quickly or effectively those plays are installed is the question.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has mused about bringing Manziel off the bench during games, aiming to use his mobility and decision-making skills to catch defenses off guard.

“I think Kyle is obviously a very innovative guy who is extremely creative,” Manziel said coyly.

Pettine and Shanahan also believe opposing teams will be more vulnerable to both quarterbacks if they have to devote practice time to learning their specific strengths.

“It does have a big effect on your prep time as a defense,” Pettine said. “Usually, when you have those situations, they are very different quarterbacks.

“The hard part is you might only get a handful of plays from the (backup), but you have to prepare for it. If you don’t, you have a chance to look very unprepared and give up some big plays.”

Manziel made his first big play of the preseason Thursday, when he rushed for a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter of Cleveland’s 33-14 home loss to St. Louis.

Through three exhibition contests, the first-round pick ranks third on the team with 33 rushing yards and has not been intercepted in 42 throws. Manziel also has posted a respectable 78.7 passer rating and completed 57.1 percent of his attempts.

“Obviously, you can’t do the same things I did in college, but I feel like everybody knew that — and I knew that going into this situation,” the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner said.

“The windows and gaps and holes close a lot faster at this level, but I feel like I’ve done a good job getting out of bounds or not really taking too many solid hits in the pocket. I’ve got a lot of work left to do, though. Believe me when I tell you that.”

Injury update

  • Browns cornerbacks Joe Haden (foot), Buster Skrine (thumb surgery), Isaiah Trufant (knee), and Pierre Desir (knee) did not practice and will not play Thursday in the preseason finale against Chicago.
  • Also unavailable were defensive end Desmond Bryant (wrist surgery) and linebacker Eric Martin (concussion).
  • Tight end Jordan Cameron (personal reasons) returned to action after being excused for one day. “It’s all good, nothing to be concerned about,” he said. “There’s nothing really for me to talk about.”
  • Wide receiver Nate Burleson (hamstring) took part in full team activities for the first time since Aug. 6. The 12th-year pro, who is on the bubble to make the squad, hopes to be active against the Bears. “It was a good day,” Burleson said. “This is all I need, to get back on the grass.”


Linebacker Christian Kirksey was named the winner of the Maurice Bassett Award, which is annually given by the media to the Browns’ most outstanding rookie in training camp.

Kirksey — the No. 71 overall pick in the NFL Draft out of Iowa — has a team-high 18 tackles and one interception in the first three preseason games. He also was named a co-starter at weakside linebacker with Craig Robertson.

Linebacker Barkevious Mingo won the award last season, but the decision was made by Cleveland’s former public relations director, who did not permit the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America to cast ballots.

Drama king

Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon had his DWI case in Raleigh, N.C., delayed until Nov. 18, according to WTVD-TV 11, the city’s ABC affiliate.

Attorney Trey Fitzhugh represented him in court, where the judge agreed to postpone the proceedings for three months. Gordon had a blood-alcohol level of .09 when he was arrested last month in Raleigh, which is above North Carolina’s legal limit of .08.

Gordon continues to await word on the appeal of his indefinite suspension for failing a drug test during the offseason.

Roster moves

Tackle Michael Bowie and linebacker Darius Eubanks were both placed on season-ending injured reserve as the Browns reduced their roster to the required 75 players by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

In announcing the moves, Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer revealed that both players underwent shoulder surgery earlier in August.

Center Nick McDonald (wrist fracture) was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list, which prohibits him from practicing with the team until Oct. 13. He also may be activated at that time.

Extra points

  • The Browns’ preseason television network includes WKYC-TV 3 in Cleveland and four affiliates. They are WBNS-TV 10 in Columbus, WHIO-TV 7 in Dayton, WTOL-TV 11 in Toledo, and WYTV-TV 33 in Youngstown.
  • Hoyer filmed a “get loud” scoreboard spot for Michigan State football games after practice. He needed three takes to generate the excitement demanded by the producer.
  • Cleveland and Chicago will close out their preseasons together for the 11th year in a row.

Quote of the day

“It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but it was pretty cool. This is where I’m from and this is where my heart is, so I was proud to show that to people.” — Browns safety Donte Whitner, who bowed to the fans and kissed the field when he ran out of the tunnel at FirstEnergy Stadium for the Rams game

Contact Brian Dulik at brisports@hotmail.com.