Rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel made his debut in the second quarter of Cleveland's preseason opener. Next week he'll get in much sooner, according to a report.
Prior to the game Saturday night, NFL Network host Dan Hellie reported that Manziel will start the second preseason game, but head coach Mike Pettine after the contest that said no decision has been made on that yet.
Manziel got in with 7:32 left in the second quarter in the eventual 13-12 loss to the Detroit Lions, and the Ford Field crowd was audibly booing as the NFL Network cut to commercial before the Browns' possession. He didn't look polished or anything, which isn't a surprise, but showed plenty of arm strength on a few throws and the speed he displayed often at Texas A&M.
It was about what you'd expect from Johnny Football: A lot of unpredictable excitement. He finished 7-of-11 for 63 yards, with 27 yards rushing on six attempts.
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Manziel's first NFL preseason play was a well-placed, quick throw to Anthony Armstrong for 6 yards. After a run, Manziel tried to pick up the first down on a read-option play, and he ran left and was cut off by three defenders. He tried to put his head down and get the first, but he was stopped short. Manziel's next play of the half was him taking a knee to kill the rest of the clock so the Browns could go into halftime.
Pettine said during a post-halftime interview Manziel would play most of the third quarter because he needed the work, and he stayed true to that.
Manziel ran a couple times on his first drive of the second half. On a third down he didn't pull the trigger on a throw, pulled it down and looked like he might run but with the pocket collapsing he dumped it off and the completion was short of the first down. Cleveland got a field goal.
Manziel had another strong throw to Taylor Gabriel to start his second drive of the third quarter. Anyone who thinks Manziel doesn't have a NFL-caliber arm hasn't watched him enough. He threw a few passes against Detroit that had a lot of velocity. His arm looked live, even in an NFL game.
He can also run, of course. On one play, Manziel saw the middle of the line open up, so he took off and slid at the end of a 16-yard run.
One play summed up the ability of Manziel, and also how he might drive the coaches crazy. On a fourth and 1, the Browns dialed up a play-action bootleg. And it worked perfectly, because fullback Ray Agnew popped open. But Manziel didn't throw it to him. Instead, he tucked and ran ... and was fast enough to get around the end and rush for the first down. He'll make some rookie mistakes at times this year, but he also has the ability to make things happen. Manziel was pulled with a little more than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Manziel had some exciting plays, and his final numbers might have been better if he wasn't working with receivers that might not be on the regular-season roster. Starter Brian Hoyer wasn't as exciting as the rookie, but he was solid. He probably wasn't good enough to make anyone believe Manziel can't win the starting job by Week 1, but he wasn't bad either.
Hoyer made decisive, solid throws, but also sailed a couple over his receivers' heads. One was a bad miss to Josh Gordon, who started as he awaits the decision on his suspension appeal.eceivers that might not be on the regular-season roster. Starter Brian Hoyer wasn't as exciting as the rookie, but he was solid. He probably wasn't good enough to make anyone believe Manziel can't win the starting job by Week 1, but he wasn't bad either.
Hoyer did have a nice, accurate throw off a play-action fake to Gordon for a 22-yard gain. He also had a nice deep throw to Miles Austin that Austin flat out dropped near the sideline. After Hoyer throw short on a third-down incompletion to Andrew Hawkins, the Browns went for it on fourth down and Austin made up for his drop by catching a slant and getting the first down. It was another good ball from Hoyer, released quickly and decisively after the snap.
Hoyer did move the Browns into Lions’ territory on all three of his drives, but he couldn’t finish any with a touchdown. Gordon had a contested pass go off his hands on third and goal on the Browns’ third possession, and that was Hoyer’s last play. Hoyer went 6-of-14 for 92 yards. Nothing bad, but nothing great.
Manziel also wasn't perfect. We'll see if he gets his chance to work with the starting offense next week.
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