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Pettine isn’t going to ‘stir up’ quarterback controversy


The Sports Xchange

Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine refused to “stir up” a quarterback controversy after Josh McCown threw two interceptions and Johnny Manziel excited the crowd with 96-yard touchdown drive in Thursday night’s preseason game.

After the 11-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium, Pettine reiterated that McCown was firmly the starter.

“I’m not going to sit here and talk about trying to stir up a quarterback controversy,” Pettine said the game. “Josh is firmly the one.”

McCown, who went 7 of 10 for 57 yards, was sacked three times in his three drives, and left the game with a sore right ring finger that required X-rays after the game. The X-rays were negative and McCown said he felt fine.

“The things that stopped us were my mistakes,” McCown said. “Not good.”

Pettine pointed out that Manziel worked against the Bills’ second- and third-team defenders.

“We’d say it’s possible (for Manziel to close the gap), but I think most teams, that’s a pretty good drop off from any starting unit, down to the twos,” Pettine said. “There’s a lot of twos with the starters, as well, so there’s an even bigger drop-off to what (Manziel was) playing against. It gets factored in, but we’ll see. We’ll evaluate both guys.

“We have an (season) opener coming up so we are going to rep our guys based on how we see fit to get prepared. We wanted to keep the first receivers in with Manziel. We pulled some of the linemen out but kept the first receivers in to get him in there with that group. Josh is firmly the one, and he is in a new system. Those guys have to play together so we will have to strike a balance with that.

“I just thought (Manziel) saw the field well. He placed the ball, made some good throws, used his feet when he had to, and I think that is the area of his game where when he does move and he is successful with it, he is moving with a purpose. I thought towards the end of the game, it got a little ragged with that line out there when he was running around. That drive in particular, I thought he handled the offense well.”

Manziel completed 10 of 18 for 118 yards with one TD and no interceptions. He ignited the crowd with his 11-play, TD drive, capped by a 21-yard strike off a play-fake to wide receiver Shane Wynn. Manziel was sacked once and rushed three times for 19 yards.

“I’m still going out trying to play my best and make an impression,” Manziel said. “That’s what I want to do. I want to have these guys go into the film tomorrow and turn on the tape and say, ‘This guy’s really doing things right and this guys really fighting hard to pick things up and make some plays.’ That’s what I’m trying to do.

“I’m trying to make an impression and leave a little bit of a lasting memory coming off these games. I wish we would have finished that out the right way, but still despite that, good things were done.”

Manziel refused to say he is pressing McCown as the starter.

“That’s definitely not my words I’m going to use, just ‘putting heat’ on Josh,” said Manziel. “I think Josh has done everything right since the day he’s been here. He’s obviously a vet and has a very good understanding of this. Mine and Josh’s relationship right now, I’m trying to learn from him, learn from some of the things he does right and learn from some of the mistakes he does make.

“I think we have a good relationship in that regard. I wouldn’t say putting heat on; I’m just trying to learn from him because there’s a lot still for me to learn.”

McCown said he continues to prepare as the starter heading into the third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Saturday night.

“Yeah, absolutely,” McCown said. “Until told otherwise, my preparation will be the same as it has been. I am getting ready to go down to Tampa, and hopefully, depending on how long we play or whatever the situation is, go out there and really get revved up. Kind of the last time before the opener.”

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