Browns coach Mike Pettine wants to keep the Steelers guessing regarding a possible package of plays for rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel for the opener Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is guessing he’ll see Manziel.
“We have a great deal of respect for Johnny Manziel and his talents and what he did to get to this point in his career,” Tomlin said Tuesday at a news conference. “We fully expect them to utilize him in some capacity in this football game. They didn’t draft him in the first round to watch. We understand that.
“So we are going through the process of preparing ourselves, really, for both guys.”
Pettine and coordinator Kyle Shanahan like the idea of opposing coaches spending extra time in meetings and practice trying to prepare for different scenarios. As a defensive coach, Pettine hates facing teams that run the option or the Wildcat or use another wrinkle.
Tomlin was asked if the Browns are winning just by forcing the Steelers to prepare for Manziel, in addition to starter Brian Hoyer.
“I don’t believe that because I believe that all of the things that they are potentially going to ask him to do I think Brian Hoyer is fully capable of doing,” Tomlin said.
“And I’m sure they are going to do it with him as well. I just think when you have a talent like Johnny Manziel, you’re going to get him on the field and help him grow and develop and continue with the growth and development process even as you get into the regular season. I don’t think necessarily his presence in the game is going to dictate a difference in schematics.”
Shanahan doesn’t have separate playbooks for Hoyer and Manziel, but he called different plays for them during the preseason.
Manziel ran the read option and rolled out much more than Hoyer. The option would be the change-up that could trip up the Steelers.
“Obviously, Manziel has some unique run skills and capabilities,” Tomlin said. “I think they are capable of highlighting that within the framework of their offense.
“But it’s not like Hoyer is immobile. We are proceeding to prepare and play against both of those guys. We have a pretty decent understanding of who and what those guys are.”
Tomlin didn’t want all the attention focused on Manziel. He’s a big fan of Hoyer, starting with his stopover in Pittsburgh for two games in 2012. Hoyer didn’t play but impressed.
“We have a great deal of respect for Brian Hoyer, because we know him,” Tomlin said. “What you don’t see on tape probably is what is most impressive about him. He is a consummate professional. He is an energy-bringer. He is really intelligent. He is really football smart. He has great ideas.
“He understands how to fit his skill set into system football. He is not going to lose games above the neck. This guy is going to show up highly prepared. He is going to know his strengths. He is going to know what we are. He is going to work to play to his strengths and attack our perceived weaknesses. He is a good football player. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he is the guy they chose to go with. It’s his job and his hobby. He loves it.”
Perhaps Tomlin’s dismissal of the notion of extra preparation time is because the Steelers have been expecting to face Manziel all along. Longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau predicted last month Manziel would win the competition with Hoyer.
“I think they’ve seen enough of him to know that he can do certain things maybe the other kid can’t,” Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about Manziel. “I think there will be certain packages. We’ve had to deal with that before. We’ll prepare to see him at one point or another.
“With a guy like that, you need to. He’s got a lot of ability, a lot of hype.”
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has been keeping an eye on Manziel for a while.
“I tried to make a point of watching him in college because it’s hard not to be a fan of somebody like that,” Polamalu told the Post-Gazette. “It’s what everybody dreams of playing, especially someone like me who does not have an arm. I can scramble like that. I think that’s the fascination.”
He thinks the Browns would benefit from turning to Manziel as a change of pace.
“New York tried to do that with Tim Tebow a little bit,” Polamalu said. “But Tebow’s a guy you have to just play and play and grind out the entire game. I don’t think Johnny is that type of guy. I think if Johnny came into the game, he would make some splashes, he doesn’t need to get into a rhythm.”
The Browns signed offensive lineman Vinston Painter to the active roster off Denver’s practice squad.
He replaced lineman Caylin Hauptmann, who was waived after failing a physical. Hauptmann was claimed off waivers Sunday.
Painter (6-foot-4, 310 pounds) was drafted by Denver in the sixth round in 2013. He spent most of the year on the practice squad, then was inactive for the final two playoff games.