It didn't take long for the Johnny Manziel bandwagon to take off within the Browns organization, according to a report.
Manziel has pulled ahead in the quarterback race after a good preseason debut on Saturday night, according to ESPN's Bob Holtzman. Holtzman cited a team source. He admitted in his tweet with that news that he reported two weeks ago that Browns players expected Brian Hoyer to start Week 1, but thinks that they may have been wrong. A lot has changed for Manziel in two weeks.
Manziel had a controversial offseason, then didn't get any first-team reps in the first week of training camp. He started working some with the starters in Week 2 of camp; all reports were that he looked a lot better in that week of practice. He did some good things against the Lions in his preseason debut. He completed seven of 11 passes for 63 yards, and his numbers would have been better but his inexperienced receivers on the second team made some errors. Manziel also led the Browns with 27 yards rushing.
He wasn't great, but he showed off the arm strength and running ability that made him a Heisman Trophy winner in college and a first-round pick last April. If nothing else, the ability was there. He didn't look overmatched on an NFL field in the slightest. And it was just his first taste of the pros.
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Holtzman's report doesn't mean Manziel is going to start Week 1. It doesn't even mean he'll start the second preseason game. NFL Network reported Saturday night that Manziel would start next week's preseason game, but coach Mike Pettine denied that any decision has been made.
Pettine reiterated on Sunday that no starter has been picked for the second preseason game, he said the ESPN report was false and there's no "clearcut favorite," according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He did say, however, that Manziel has made "a lot of improvement."
While it was clear on Saturday night that Hoyer would be a nice, safe choice to start the season opener, he doesn't have the potential Manziel brings to the table. Manziel is going to win the job sooner or later, the only question is whether he can do it by Week 1.
After the game, Browns receiver Nate Burleson told Yahoo Sports' Eric Adelson that whoever wins the job, “It might be by a hair.” And Burleson is probably right. Even if Manziel did take the lead after the first preseason game, it can't be by that much. It will be interesting to see if the report that Manziel is ahead leads to him getting the start in Cleveland's next preseason game, Monday Aug. 18 at Washington. If he gets that start, he might not let the job go for a long time.
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