The Cleveland Browns are rumored to have a quarterback controversy on their hands.
Going into training camp, it seemed clear that veteran Josh McCown was in line to be the starter, and second-year quarterback Johnny Manziel would take some more time for his development by playing behind McCown. But now it appears that Manziel’s development is moving in fast forward, with reports from camp that his impressive performances have moved him up to the first team.
Manziel was completed 9-of-11 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns during intrasquad scrimmages this week, one of the best performances since he left rehab and returned to the team this offseason.
Manziel tried to downplay the efforts, however.
“I wouldn’t make a huge deal about it, but it’s progress for me,” Manziel said. “It’s better than I played last year in the scrimmage. A year later, there’s a lot of progress. I’m happy about it and happy about stringing some good days together. That’s what I wanted to do.”
Though Johnny Manziel had been playing with the second team, rumors around Cleveland Browns training camp indicate that he’s in line to get time with the starters in the coming days.
While coach Mike Pettine indicated that Manziel’s first-team reps were a precaution in case McCown went down with an injury at some point, some around camp believe that Manziel could surpass him before the preseason is over.
“With guys who were nicked up and not able to go, we just couldn’t get them both enough reps,” Pettine said, via Ohio.com. “It’ll happen in the preseason game, but the way we were depleted with injuries and being cautious with guys, there was just no way to do it without putting other guys at risk.”
Manziel’s teammates appear to be coming around as well. He got praise from pro bowl tackle Joe Thomas, who said Manziel “is ready to be an NFL starting quarterback.”
“And I think playing well in the scrimmage tonight and looking like an NFL quarterback is another good step in the direction that he wants to go,” Thomas said. “He’s just earning that trust of his teammates that he’s going to need to do if he wants to be that starter. I think he impressed a lot of people out here tonight.”
But there are still many who believe Johnny Manziel has a ways to go before surpassing McCown. Cleveland.com’s Terry Pluto reported that the team is still functioning more smoothly under McCown, and Manziel’s past troubles with partying may mean he has to go a little further to prove he is ready for the mantle of starter.
[Picture by Grant Halverson/Getty Images]