Browns' Manziel on being a target: 'I welcome it'
BEREA, Ohio (AP) For all the adulation and attention Johnny Manziel receives, he gets almost equal doses of negativity, some of it in the form of taunts and hard tackles.
Since college he's been a marked man, and it's no different in the NFL.
Don't think that scares him.
''I welcome it,'' the Cleveland rookie quarterback said Friday.
As he prepares for his first career start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, Manziel said he understands there are always going to be those out to get him.
''I accept that, and I've been a guy that's had a lot of hate spewed towards me,'' he said following practice. ''And, obviously, we saw that at (Texas) A&M, but it's part of it, and you just move on from that and do what I need to do.''
Manziel's first experience as a pro with being targeted came during an Aug. 18 exhibition game against Washington. The Redskins taunted him to the point that Manziel flipped his middle finger toward Washington's sideline, a gesture that was captured on national TV and wound up getting him a $12,000 fine.
Manziel said he learned from the incident and he's now better equipped to handle any trash talking.
''I'm in a different place now,'' he said. ''It's not like it was in preseason. I have to have a lot better control of everything. I'm under a lot more control than I was then, and I know I have a lot better control of my emotions. I know I need to go out and be the leader of this team, and regardless if I'm a rookie or not, go out and try to have fun and not get caught up in any other bull crap.''
Browns coach Mike Pettine plans to remind Manziel to keep his composure when the Browns (7-6) face the AFC North-leading Bengals (8-4-1).
''It won't be anything extravagant,'' Pettine said, ''just more of, `It's one play at a time and focus on the job and don't get caught up in it. You've got to be able to compartmentalize week to week, and you've got to be able to compartmentalize play to play.' There's going to be a lot on him.
''I'm not going to overwhelm him, but at the same time, just know that we know he's going to make mistakes, and we'll have his back.''
The Bengals have already taken a swipe at Manziel as Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis called the 6-footer ''a midget'' this week. Lewis has since apologized several times, but his barb may be indicative of a general feeling about the hyped rookie around the rest of the league.
''Everybody's gunning for him,'' Pettine said. ''I guarantee everybody that sacks him is going to stand over him and make the money sign,'' Pettine said. ''That comes with it. But his best thing is not to get caught up in it. He's got to go out and execute. And when a play's over, it's over, and you have to move on to the next one.
''He's no stranger to it. But that's the price that he has to pay for being who he is and what he brings with him, the reputation that he brings with him to the NFL.''
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