Johnny Manziel: ‘I’m the backup quarterback’

Published 8:37 am Thursday, August 21, 2014

By Tom Withers

AP Sports Writer

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BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Johnny Manziel waved both arms as if he was quieting the home crowd before a big play.

Really, he just wants to fade into the background a bit. Good luck with that.

Beaten out by Brian Hoyer to be Cleveland’s starter, the Browns rookie quarterback said Wednesday that he’s disappointed he won’t be on the field against Pittsburgh in the season opener on Sept. 7. Manziel knows he didn’t do enough during training camp and the preseason to convince coach Mike Pettine to choose him over Hoyer, who overcame a serious knee injury and then held off the first-round draft pick to keep the job.

Manziel believes the focus should be on Hoyer.

“I’m the backup quarterback,” Johnny Football said. “I shouldn’t be in the spotlight.”

It always seems to find Manziel though, and that will likely remain the case even if he’s on the sideline watching Hoyer.

Manziel said he has no regrets about the way he approached his competition with Hoyer, which ended after the Browns coaching staff met Tuesday night to evaluate Cleveland’s two quarterbacks, both of whom have performed poorly.

Manziel was criticized for some weekend partying, but the former Heisman Trophy winner insisted he wouldn’t change a thing. He’s growing and maturing and hopes to one day lead an NFL team. This is all new to him.

“I’ll learn how a season goes,” he said. “Now next time I come into training camp I won’t be surprised by it. Next time I come into OTAs, I won’t be surprised by it. But I wouldn’t go back from the point after the draft to now and change a single thing. I’m going to continue to live my life and the offseason is the offseason. I’m going to travel places, I’m going to go places, I’m going to do things and that’s going to have no effect.

“Obviously I need to do it in the proper way, but I’m still going to continue to have fun in my life and continue to live my life, and I don’t think any of that really slowed me in this competition. I think more than anything, if you come out and play well, it makes the decision a lot easier.”

Pettine announced in a release before practice Wednesday that he’ll go with Hoyer, who made three starts in 2013 before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last season. Pettine’s decision ends weeks of competition and analysis, and the Browns are hoping it will allow Hoyer to relax and build some chemistry with Cleveland’s struggling offense before they meet the dreaded Steelers, their long-time rivals.

The Browns play their first home preseason game on Saturday against St. Louis.

Hoyer was informed by Pettine just moments before a team meeting. Hoyer said he didn’t even have enough time to call his family.

It’s a dream come true for the six-year veteran, who grew up in Cleveland rooting for the Browns.

“For me, it’s excitement,” Hoyer said. “This is what I worked for for a whole year to get back to. Obviously, it’s good to move forward and move on with the decision being made and get back to work and get ready for St. Louis. 

“Like I said all along, it’s been my mentality this whole offseason and training camp to come out here and act like the starter and be the starter and now that it’s official we can move on.”