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NFL notebook: Manziel to start for Browns, face Mariota

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Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced Friday that Johnny Manziel will start at quarterback in Sunday’s home opener against the Tennessee Titans and rookie Marcus Mariota.

Starter Josh McCown suffered a concussion in the season-opening 31-10 loss to the New York Jets and remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol. McCown was injured last Sunday when he went airborne trying to vault over the goal line on a third-and-goal scramble from the 14-yard line.

Manziel, who will get the third start of his NFL career, practiced with the first team this week.

“Johnny has had a good week,” Pettine said Friday. “It’s not like Josh practiced and we find out late he can’t go. When a guy goes into the protocol, you have to make the assumption that he’s not going to be back and then react to the news when he is. We’re prepared.”

Manziel will face off against Mariota, who stunned the entire NFL with four touchdown passes to four different receivers in a Week 1 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 42-14. Mariota completed 13 of 16 passes for 209 yards and the four scores as he outplayed former fellow Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of the Bucs.

The Week 2 game will highlight another matchup of former Heisman Trophy winners, this time between Mariota and Manziel, who is seeking his first NFL win as a starter.

In relief of McCown against the Jets, Manziel threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Travis Benjamin on his first possession but turned it over on three of four possessions in the second half. He threw one interceptions and fumbled twice.

Manziel finished 13 of 24 for 182 yards for the Browns. He also led Cleveland in rushing with 35 yards on five scrambles. He missed the final two preseason games and practice time with tendinitis in his right elbow.

“I definitely feel I’m in a lot better place now,” Manziel said Friday. “So I guess if I thought I was prepared then, I think I’m even more prepared now, obviously with the experience and those two starts and then through the offseason and last week and just where I’m at today, so I definitely feel a lot better.”

—Victor Cruz is not yet ready to return to the New York Giants.

Cruz was ruled out for the Week 2 game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, when the Giants try to recover from a late-game breakdown at Dallas. The Atlanta Falcons, winners over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, are in town to oppose the Giants.

Without Cruz, who is dealing with a calf strain, Rueben Randle and slot receiver Preston Parker are the other starters with Dwayne Harris No. 4. It means more of the Falcons’ secondary attention will be on Odell Beckham.

The Giants also listed linebacker Jon Beason (knee) as doubtful.

—Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington will miss Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears due to a knee injury.

Ellington sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the season-opening victory over the New Orleans Saints. He didn’t practice all week and the club ruled him out on Friday’s injury report.

Ellington will be replaced as the starter by offseason acquisition Chris Johnson, the veteran back who rushed for 2,006 yards for the Tennessee Titans in 2009 as part of a string of six straight 1,000-yard seasons.

—San Francisco running back Reggie Bush will miss Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a calf injury.

Bush suffered the injury in San Francisco’s season-opening victory against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday. Coach Jim Tomsula announced Friday that Bush won’t travel with the team to Pittsburgh.

Bush was slated to be the main backup to Carlos Hyde against the Vikings. He carried the ball just twice before leaving in the first quarter with the injury that was later pinpointed to be a strained calf. Hyde rushed for 168 yards in the opener.

—Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy said starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga will not play Sunday night against the Seattle Seahawks after suffering a knee injury in practice.

Bulaga departed Thursday’s practice after hurting his left knee. The team initially feared that Bulaga had torn his ACL, but the six-year veteran was later diagnosed with a strained MCL.

Bulaga suffered the same injury last year in the season opener, and he returned after missing one game. He missed all of 2013 with an ACL tear and underwent reconstructive surgery.

—Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans and remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol.

Kuechly sustained a concussion late in the first half of Week 1’s 20-9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The All-Pro linebacker was present at Friday’s practice but did not participate in any drills.

Kuechly, who signed a $62 million contract extension last week, hasn’t been cleared by team doctors and the independent neurologist.

—Houston Texas running back Arian Foster participated in practice again Friday but as expected was ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers.

Foster, who participated in practice on Thursday for the first time since undergoing groin surgery on Aug. 7, has made some progress this week.

Foster rushed for 1,246 yards last season and Houston used a combination of Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and Jonathan Grimes to replace him in the season-opening 27-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Texans also declared safety Lonnie Ballentine (knee), linebacker Mike Mohamed (calf) and guard Xavier Su’a-Filo (calf) out for Week 2.

—Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett, frustrated when he wasn’t named the starter coming out of training camp, is excited for the second chance already in Week 2.

Head coach Bill O’Brien officially announced Thursday that Mallett will start Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, replacing Week 1 starter Brian Hoyer.

Mallett admitted he didn’t expect Hoyer to lose the job he had just earned.

“You feel bad when it’s one week, but at the same time, you’re excited to get out there and show what you’ve been working toward,” Mallett told the Houston Chronicle.

Mallett played well in the opener against the Kansas City Chiefs after replacing Hoyer with 6:10 left in the game. Mallett was 8-of-13 passing for 98 yards with one touchdown and two-point conversion pass in the 27-20 defeat.

—Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery did not practice Friday and his status for Sunday’s game is uncertain.

Jeffery, the team’s No. 1 receiver entering the season with Brandon Marshall dealt to the New York Jets, was hobbled by a calf strain most of the preseason and said the injury limited him in Week 1.

Without Jeffery and first-round pick Kevin White, the Bears’ passing game would be limited to Eddie Royal as a lead receiver along with tight end Martellus Bennett.

—Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, dealing with hamstring soreness, was back at practice Friday and will be in the starting lineup against the New York Giants.

Head coach Dan Quinn said he did not have any doubts about Jones playing in New York on Sunday.

The Falcons, coming off a 26-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night in the coaching debut of Quinn, kept Jones out of practice Wednesday and Thursday.

—Running back LeSean McCoy was back on the practice field with the Buffalo Bills on Friday and expects to play Sunday in the AFC East showdown with the New England Patriots.

McCoy was limited by a hamstring injury throughout the preseason and returned Week 1, but appears to be battling lingering discomfort. He was unable to complete Thursday’s practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

McCoy, acquired in an offseason trade from the Philadelphia Eagles, had 41 yards on 17 carries in his Bills’ debut last week.

—Miami Dolphins pass rusher Cameron Wake was listed as questionable with a hamstring ailment on the team’s injury report.

Wake said he was feeling great but didn’t elaborate at length. The Dolphins visit the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

Wake suffered the hamstring injury late in the season-opening game against the Washington Redskins.

—The Indianapolis Colts elevated cornerback Eric Patterson to the 53-man roster from the practice squad and placed cornerback D’Joun Smith on injured reserve/designated for return.

Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (knee) and cornerback Darius Butler (hip) did not practice Friday and their status for Monday night’s game against the New York Jets remains unclear. Cornerback Greg Toler (neck) also did not practice.


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