NFL Wire News

Manziel looks forward to first start

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Johnny Manziel realizes there will be plenty of scrutiny Sunday when he makes his first start at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, but he has dealt with that before and isn’t worried.

“I think I welcome it. I think I accept that,” the rookie said Friday. “I’ve been a guy that has had a lot of hate spewed towards me. Obviously, we saw that at (Texas) A&M, but that’s part of it and I just move on from that and do what I need to do.”

Browns coach Mike Pettine, who named Manziel the starter earlier this week, is eager to see how he performs against the Cincinnati Bengals. Pettine said Manziel brought energy to the offense during practices this week.

“And I think it was contagious,” Pettine said. “You could tell that he’s rejuvenated and just much more assertive in the huddle and just how he’s carrying himself around the other guys. Hopefully, that energy can carry over to Sunday.”

Manziel has waited for the opportunity since he was drafted in the first round by the Browns last spring. Pettine decided to bench the struggling Brian Hoyer in hopes that Manziel will rejuvenate the offense.

Hoyer had his worst game of the season last week, completing only 14 of 31 passes for 140 yards and two interceptions in a 25-24 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

“There’s a lot of excitement, but at the same time, it’s business,” Manziel said. “We need to go out and run our offense and have some success. You can’t get too caught up in the buzz and everything else that’s going on.

“When it comes down to it, it’s football. You need to go out and play and execute and do your job.”

The Browns (7-6) need a win Sunday over the Bengals (8-4-1) to keep pace in the AFC North race with three games remaining.

“I’m looking forward to this opportunity to go out on Sunday and try and get this win,” Manziel said. “For us, throughout this week, I think these guys have started believing in me. Obviously I’m going to be the guy this week, and they’ve rallied around me and helped me tremendously.”

Manziel believes he has grown since the preseason when he directed an obscene gesture toward the Washington Redskins after throwing an interception. He expects the Bengals to try to make him unravel.

“I’m sure. We saw a little bit of it through the preseason,” Manziel said. “There was some stuff going on, but at the same time, for me, I’m in a different place now. It’s not like it was in preseason. I feel like I have a lot better control of everything.

“I’m under a lot more control than I was then, and I have a lot better control over my emotions. I need to go out and be the leader of this team and regardless of whether I’m a rookie or not, go out and try and have fun and not get caught up in any other bull-crap.”

Pettine plans to talk with Manziel about playing under control.

“It won’t be anything extravagant, just more of, ‘It’s one play at a time and focus on the job and don’t get caught up in it,” Pettine said. “You’ve got to be able to compartmentalize week to week, and you’ve got to be able to compartmentalize play to play.’

“There’s going to be a lot on him. I’m not going to overwhelm him, but at the same time, just know that we know he’s going to make mistakes, and we’ll have his back.”


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