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Minicamp report: Browns’ Manziel says he is changed man


The Sports Xchange

BEREA, Ohio — Quarterback Johnny Manziel is determined to concentrate on football only this year and shed the image that made him divisive as a rookie in 2014 with the Cleveland Browns.

Manziel met with the media after the team’s Wednesday minicamp workout. It was the first time since Dec. 29 he faced the cameras. He spent 70 days — Jan. 28 to April 11 — in a rehab center in Pennsylvania and while he did not address the details of the stay he vows to be a different person for himself and his teammates.

“I think at times Johnny Football probably took over me a little bit and I bought into that,” Manziel said. “I didn’t do my best to hush things down, push down the hype. I think at times I welcomed it with immaturity and just accepted that a little bit and that’s my fault.

“At the end of the day everything that happened last year is not on anybody else but myself. I guess I wasn’t prepared to handle the type of spotlight that I got, and all the hype that came with it.”

Manziel added:

“The money sign won’t be back. I won’t be making it.”

Manziel infamously rubbed his thumbs across in his index fingers after scoring a touchdown or throwing a touchdown pass at Texas A&M. He had very little success as a rookie with the Browns, but he did score a rushing touchdown against the Buffalo Bills in a backup role to cut the Bills lead to 20-10. Sure enough, he flashed the money sign. Two weeks later he started against the Bengals and was shut out, 30-0.

“Last year was last year for me,” Manziel said. “It was what it was, and it was not very good. I’m trying to close that chapter and just build on what I’ve done so far this year and just move forward. It’s not one that I’m very proud of; not one that I want to look back on very much and draw back on, that’s for sure.”

Manziel was photographed riding an inflatable swan in a swimming pool while sipping champagne and rolling up paper money in a restroom as examples of his indiscretion. He was also involved in an altercation with a fan around 2 a.m. on Nov. 22 in his downtown Cleveland apartment. Manziel has since moved to a quieter suburb on a golf course.

Manziel is second on the depth chart behind Josh McCown. He could win the starting job in training camp and preseason. At this point the competition isn’t close, but head coach Mike Pettine said Manziel is getting better.

“If you ask me has he improved from the day he set foot back in the building I would say ‘absolutely,” Pettine said. “In all the little things it takes to be an NFL quarterback (he has gotten better).”

The Browns are being patient with Manziel. He is trying to learn the offense being installed by new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

“It’s a process,” he said. “I’m doing some good things and doing some bad things. I think that’s part of the OTA season. Some days you come out, you really feel like you have it down. The next day the defense will come out and throw a little bit of wrinkles at you and you have to go back to the film and evaluate.”

Manziel was 0-2 as a starter with the Browns last year. McCown was 1-10 as a starter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

–Second year cornerback Justin Gilbert missed practice Wednesday because of a family issue. Pettine did not offer details but he said it is an excused absence.

–Rookie offensive lineman Cameron Erving is nursing an undisclosed injury. He is expected to be fine by training camp. When he practices he will rotate at tackle and guard and might get time at center. His likely landing spot is starting right guard.

–Left tackle Joe Thomas and defensive lineman Desmond Bryant were given Wednesday off to rest.

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