Johnny Manziel back as starter for Browns after benching
CLEVELAND (AP) Johnny Manziel's timeout has ended. He's starting for the Browns again.
The polarizing quarterback will play Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, returning to the lineup after being benched two games by coach Mike Pettine for defiantly partying during the team's bye week.
Pettine is giving Manziel another chance after the second-year QB broke a promise that he wouldn't become a distraction when the team was off last month. Manziel had been named the starter for Cleveland's final six games on Nov. 17 only to throw away the opportunity with his escapades.
Pettine feels Johnny Football has paid his dues.
''He's been solid in the building over the last couple of weeks and we are hopeful he takes this opportunity to continue to build on the progress he's made on the field throughout the season,'' Pettine said. ''The goal for every game is to go out and win, and Johnny needs to show that he can put us in position to do so during these last four weeks of the season.''
Manziel will replace Austin Davis, who started Sunday's 37-3 embarrassing loss to Cincinnati. Davis, the 24th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999, didn't do anything to lose his job, but not enough to hang on to it either. The Browns lost two wide receivers to injuries against the Bengals, hurting Davis' chances of making a strong impression.
The Browns have changed starting quarterbacks six times this season – this is the third time Manziel has been given the job.
Manziel passed for a career-high 372 yards in his last start on Nov. 15 in Pittsburgh. He's 1-2 as a starter this season, and will now have four more games to prove to the Browns that he can be their long-term answer at quarterback.
More importantly, he has to win back the trust of Pettine, other coaches and his teammates.
Manziel's latest promotion continues a drama-filled two seasons in the NFL for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. He made more headlines with his antics outside of football last season and spent 10 weeks last winter in a rehab facility specializing in treatment for alcohol and substance abuse. Manziel was investigated last month by the NFL following a domestic dispute involving his girlfriend. The league said it did not find any evidence that Manziel violated its personal conduct policy.
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