The Cleveland Browns have named a starting quarterback, and it’s not Johnny Manziel — at least for now.
Coach Mike Pettine addressed the media on Sunday, saying that veteran Josh McCown is the team’s starter for now. McCown was brought in to serve as a veteran presence on an offense that saw big swings last year, as the play of Brian Hoyer dropped off and Johnny Manziel failed to seize his opportunity.
Manziel has since taken strides to improve, both on and off the field, but he’s not close to the starting job yet.
#browns Pettine said again: “josh (mccown) is firmly the one, Johnny’s the 2”
— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) August 9, 2015
Johnny Manziel has been doing his best to climb out of the No. 2 spot. He had a strong week at training camp, looking sharp at times including hitting 9-of-11 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns during intrasquad scrimmages this week.
But Manziel has downplayed the efforts.
“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.”
Manziel will also get a chance to have some first-team reps in the immediate future. Mike Pettine said he plans to split time in the upcoming preseason games, giving Manziel some time with the first unit as well as McCown.
“With guys who were nicked up and not able to go, we just couldn’t get them both enough reps,” Pettine said, via Ohio. “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.”
By most accounts, Manziel’s problems in his rookie season were with his attitude rather than abilities. Some teammates said he lacked focus and cared more about partying than game preparation, which was evident in his late-season benching after missing a scheduled injury treatment after hosting a party the night before.
But Johnny Manziel appears to be a different player after his offseason trip to rehab, and some around the Cleveland Browns believe he could move into the starting position after he proves himself capable both on and off the field.
[Picture by Grant Halverson/Getty Images]