Browns coach says Manziel ‘more than likely’ to be backup
CLEVELAND (AP) Johnny Manziel is expected to remain Cleveland’s backup quarterback as the NFL investigates whether he violated its personal conduct policy.
Manziel was questioned on Oct. 12 by police in Avon, Ohio, after he and girlfriend Colleen Crowley argued while the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner drove on a highway. Crowley told police that Manziel hit her several times.
Manziel denied striking Crowley, was not arrested and the couple was allowed to leave together. Manziel could be facing a fine, suspension or potential banishment if the league finds he broke provisions in its conduct policy.
A league spokesman said Friday there was no update on its investigation.
Following practice, Browns coach Mike Pettine said Manziel will ”more than likely” back up starter Josh McCown on Sunday when Cleveland visits the St. Louis Rams. The Browns made Manziel active for last week’s game against Denver despite his domestic incident.
The Browns’ only other option at quarterback is Austin Davis. He played for the Rams last season and recently signed a two-year contract. The Browns have leaned on him this week for information about his former team.
Pettine said Manziel was allowed to dress for last week’s game because the team was satisfied with its findings of the incident, which occurred on an off day for Browns players. Pettine also indicated that Manziel was fined, but the coach would not make public the Browns’ internal discipline of the 22-year-old.
Manziel admitted drinking alcohol a few hours before his argument with Crowley, who police said was intoxicated. He spent 10 weeks in a rehab facility during the offseason for an unspecified condition.
It’s not known if Manziel’s after-care prohibits him from drinking or if he is in the league’s substance abuse program.
While Pettine said the incident was ”upsetting to all of us,” he praised Manziel for his renewed commitment this season. Following a rough rookie season, Manziel acknowledged he didn’t take his job seriously enough.
”One of the positives in his life is football,” Pettine said. ”That’s to give him an outlet and, again, it’s hard for me to speak on, not just him, but any player outside the building because I’m not with them, but as his coach he’s been an A-plus when he’s here.”
Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said he isn’t concerned by Manziel’s latest issue in what has been a drama-filled two seasons.
”I try not to get too involved in the gossip side, and what happens outside of football is none of my business,” Thomas said, ”and what I see from our team and what I see from the guys when they’re in the building is how I evaluate them and their progress. I think Johnny’s doing a great job and the preparation this week has been the same as it has been all year.
”So the off-field incident that may or may not have happened, or whatever happened, doesn’t seem to be affecting how he’s preparing for each Sunday’s game and I think that’s the most important thing. The other stuff is just kind of between him and whoever it happened with.”
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