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Manziel to start for injured McCown on Thursday night

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel will start against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night in place of injured Josh McCown.

The team made the announcement Wednesday morning. Head coach Mike Pettine said the day before that both McCown and Manziel would prepare to play, but McCown did not practice Tuesday night.

McCown, who has started seven games for the Browns this season, injured his ribs in a loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday.

Manziel, in his second year in the NFL, played near the end of the game last week in his first action since leading the Browns to a 28-14 win in the second week of the season over the Tennessee Titans. In four games this season, Manziel has completed 28 of 50 passes for 393 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, with five sacks.

Manziel made his first career start against the Bengals last season in a 30-0 defeat, in which he was intercepted twice, sacked three times and compiled just 80 yards of passing.

“He’s a different player,” Pettine said Tuesday before practice. “I think we saw that this year when he had to go into the Jets game. I thought he did some good things, made some mistakes, put the ball on the ground then had a week of preparation to get ready to Tennessee and went out and executed a gameplan. I just think we’ve all seen it from going back to the amount of work in the spring to training camp.”

Pettine said the major difference from last year is Manziel’s patience in the pocket.

“When the rush became live, I think that’s where you saw that he made his biggest improvement with his demeanor in the pocket,” Pettine said. “That it wasn’t as frenetic, that his feet were calm. I just think he has a really good understanding of what we’re doing, understands the plays, what’s designed for what. All the intricate details, he has a much better grasp of and it’s shown when he’s been out there.”

Manziel met with NFL investigators last week regarding his role in the Oct. 12 incident with his girlfriend in Avon, Ohio. Manziel’s girlfriend initially told police that Manziel hit her a “couple times” and pushed her face against a car window.


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