The Cleveland Browns are turning the bad news of Johnny Manziel’s elbow injury into a strange opportunity for one very unlikely signal-caller.
Manziel was hurt in practice on Sunday, grabbing his right elbow in pain after throwing a deep pass. Coach Mike Pettine halted practice while trainers attended to Manziel, who has been bothered by soreness in the elbow in the past few days and even missed practice last week leading up to the team’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
With Johnny Manziel out for a while and third-stringer Connor Shaw out with an injured thumb, the Cleveland Browns are reaching to the bottom of the barrel for a quarterback to sit behind Thad Lewis at the No. 3 spot.
And the man they’re calling on is none other than Johnny Manziel’s quarterback coach, Kevin O’Connell.
#Browns shutting down Johnny Manziel (elbow) on Monday. 3rd QB will be Kevin O’Connell, the QB coach.
— Tony Grossi (@TonyGrossi) August 23, 2015
The New York Post noted the strange predicament.
“Kevin O’Connell is Cleveland’s quarterbacks coach and a former joureyman clipboard-holder, including backup stints with the Patriots and Jets. He last listed “quarterback” on his resume in 2012, when he had a cup of coffee with the Chargers in training camp.
“The 30-year-old may need to act as player-coach for part of the week, as Johnny Football, who’s looked much improved in limited action this preseason, likely will rest a few days. But O’Connell’s reliving his glory days likely won’t last too long.”
The Browns have taken the drama out of the quarterback race this offseason, saying repeatedly that Johnny Manziel is in the No. 2 spot behind veteran Josh McCown.
Mike Pettine wouldn’t say much looking forward, clearly keeping his options open if Manziel can continue to improve and show more consistency.
“I’m not into guaranteeing or announcing a game-week starter,” Pettine said on Friday, via ESPN. “That, to me, comes down the road. We’re just looking to have a good week of preparation and go out and play Tampa [on Aug. 29]. Let’s get better.”
But Pettine said that Manziel is still the No. 2 for now — even after McCown threw two interceptions on Thursday against the Buffalo Bills.
“We feel good about where Johnny [Manziel] is as the No. 2 and where Josh is as the No. 1,” Pettine said. “Our thoughts on the quarterback picture are the same as they were going into last night.”
The Cleveland Browns may not have to be turning to Kevin O’Connell for long. Mike Pettine told reporters that the team doesn’t anticipate Johnny Manziel’s injury to be long-term, though he didn’t give an exact time frame for Manziel’s return.
[Picture by Mary Ann Chastain/Getty Images]