Coach Mike Pettine told NFL Network's "NFL AM" on Thursday that Johnny Football taking third-team reps in organized team activities is just part of the competition process.
"I'm not adverse to playing a rookie," he said. "I've been a part of some of those situations -- whether it's Joe Flacco, Mark Sanchez, situations where we had a rookie quarterback and we ended up building a solid team around them and we're able to have success. I'm not going to take a hard line either way. He's going to be part of a competition with Brian Hoyer for that starting job."
It's important to note that both the quarterbacks whom Pettine mentioned made the AFC Championship Game in their rookie seasons on the strength of great defensive play. The Browns similarly are buoyed by a rock-solid defense entering the 2014 season.
Pettine reiterated, however, that whether or not Johnny Football wins the starting job -- and we firmly believe he will -- it will be based on the offseason competition, not popularity.
"(Manziel) will be the first one to tell you that he earned 'Johnny Football' as a college quarterback, and he knows he has to earn it as an NFL quarterback," Pettine said. "We're not going to let jersey sales determine our depth chart."