Reports: Johnny Manziel takes second-team reps at Browns' OTAs
The Cleveland Browns opened organized team activities Tuesday and shed some light on their murky quarterback situation.
Johnny Manziel took second-team reps behind veteran Josh McCown, according to local beat reporters.
Dressed in a red non-contact jersey, basketball shorts and a helmet, Manziel had an uneven performance, according to those on the scene:
#Browns CB K'Waun Williams with pick 6 off Johnny Manziel in seven-on-seven drill. Out route intended for Andrew Hawkins.— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) May 26, 2015
Except for sporting a tighter haircut under his orange helmet, Manziel looked pretty much the same. He scrambled from defenders and zipped passes. He talked to his coaches after plays and joked around with teammates during water breaks.
Manziel is back on the football field, where he built his Johnny Football reputation and where he must now prove he belongs. His comeback — day-to-day — is ongoing.
For the first time since a highly publicized, 10-week stay at a rehab facility in Pennsylvania this winter, Manziel practiced in front of journalists on Tuesday as the Browns moved into the next phase of their offseason program.
The 22-year-old, who played poorly in two starts last season and then sought treatment for an unspecified issue, did not speak with reporters afterward.
However, several of his teammates gave glowing reports on Manziel. They've been impressed with his determination to change a party-boy image following a bad rookie year.
"He understands the mistakes that he's made, so he's taken the proper steps to try to keep himself out of trouble," Browns safety Donte Whitner said. "Now he understands how serious it is. He'll be all right."
The Browns can only hope so. They invested a first-round draft pick on the former Heisman Trophy winner and have publicly stated they still believe he can develop into a top-tier NFL starter. Time will tell, but Manziel is at least showing early signs of an attitude change.
Whitner said when he arrives or leaves Browns headquarters, Manziel's car is usually in the parking lot.
"If you're here in the morning, you see who has those first couple parking spots, you know who was here before everybody else," he said. "So he's taken the steps that it takes to be a good quarterback."
Manziel had a few nice moments during 11-on-11 drills. He threaded a strong pass over the middle to tight end Rob Housler on one play, and rolled right and slipped a side-armed pass for a completion to wide receiver Darius Jennings. Manziel, who will enter training camp as Josh McCown's backup, also forced a short throw that was intercepted by K'Waun Williams and returned for a touchdown.
Browns coach Mike Pettine did not grade any of Manziel's snaps but said he's been "very engaged in meetings."
As for Manziel's personality, Pettine said the popular QB hasn't changed.
"He's probably a little bit more focused now," Pettine said. "But it's something that he knows and he has said, he'll have to prove it every day."
McCown has seen it. The 13-year veteran has been teammates with Manziel for only a short time, but said Manziel just needs to keep stacking up good days.
"His position is very demanding. It's demanding of a lot of things — emotionally, your time and effort — and I think he's understanding that and he's embracing that, and that's the key," McCown said.
While Pettine has said that McCown is the favorite to be the starter, offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who was hired four months ago, noted earlier this offseason that he has come away intrigued by Manziel’s work ethic during his short time back with the team.
"He's spent every hour that he's been allowed to spend in this building," DeFilippo told reporters earlier this month, according to ESPN.com. "I can't predict the future, but all I can do is tell you right now Johnny Manziel is putting himself in a position to be a quarterback in the NFL."
Manziel played seven quarters during his rookie season, completing 18 of 35 passes for 175 yards and two interceptions. Manziel was fined in Week 17 for missing his treatment for a hamstring injury.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.