While his professional game needs major work, Johnny Manziel believes he’s made personal progress.
"I have changed and adapted my lifestyle incredibly since last year," the Browns quarterback said.
Following Wednesday’s practice, Manziel, whose every move on and off the field continue to be debated and dissected, said he does not expect to be punished by the NFL for his actions in a recent domestic incident.
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The league is investigating whether Manziel violated its personal conduct policy during a roadside argument with his girlfriend on Oct. 12. Manziel, who was questioned but not charged by Avon, Ohio, police, recently met with a league official to discuss his involvement. Manziel could face a fine, suspension or ban if the league feels he broke any rules.
He’s also waiting to learn if he’ll make his second straight start.
Manziel played last week against Cincinnati and may be called upon again Sunday if Josh McCown remains sidelined with injured ribs. McCown, who injured his ribs in a Nov. 1 loss to Arizona, was limited in practice on Wednesday but is optimistic he’ll be back in the lineup against Pittsburgh as the Browns (2-7) attempt to snap a four-game losing streak.
"Each day, I felt like we gained a little ground, maybe not as much as I would like, but I feel like it’s improving and that’s a good thing," McCown said.
Manziel showed more improvement in his fourth career start, but not as much as he or the Browns would have liked. He threw a touchdown pass in the first half and made several big plays outside the pocket. But once the Bengals stopped his scrambling, Manziel passed for just 40 yards in the second half of a 31-10 loss.
Unlike his rookie year, when he was ill-prepared and admittedly not committed to his craft, Manziel is putting in time to correct his mistakes.
Manziel candidly acknowledged that his physical limitations force him to play differently than other quarterbacks. They can stay in the pocket and read a defense while he has to run.
"I’m not going to be able to sit there like some of these taller quarterbacks in the league and just be able to see everything happen as it plays on," he said. "I’m going to have to make a faith throw, knowing that, hey, this guy’s here and this guy went there."
"There’s going to be times where I’m going to not be able to see everything like everyone else and it’s clear as day," he said. "I’m getting better at it, but I’m nowhere near perfect, that’s for sure."
Manziel’s life remains an open book — or rather, a Twitter and Instagram diary.
With the Browns off last weekend, Manziel returned to Texas A&M, where the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner served as an honorary captain for the Aggies game against Auburn. Manziel relished the chance to see former teammates and friends, but as always seems to be the case, photos emerged of him having a good time.
Manziel, who spent 70 days in a rehab facility during the offseason, defended his decision to make the trip.
"I probably took 2,000 pictures this weekend and just those are the ones that happened to be blasted out onto social media," he said. "I can’t really control who does what with those and what people say about them."
Manziel also understands his behavior will continue to be scrutinized.
"There’s going to continue to always be a cloud over my head from everything that’s happened in the past," he said. "I’m sure any time anybody sees me in any type of aspect or any type of situation the way that anything would’ve been before, they’re just going to say, `Oh, he’s back to doing the same thing over and over again.’ I’m smart enough to have learned a lot over my past year and a half of my life, that’s for sure."