Cleveland Browns  

 

Johnny Manziel 'absolutely' expects to be Browns' Week 1 starter

BEREA, Ohio -- The first afternoon after Johnny Manziel was drafted, he walked into Browns headquarters, met with the media and carefully said if first-year head coach Mike Pettine didn't want to start a rookie, he would do what was best for the team.

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Fast forward to the end of his first offseason training program and Manziel said, basically, nobody puts Baby in the corner.

The rookie lightning rod was emphatic when asked if he expects to start Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Absolutely," Manziel said.

"I want to play. That's what anybody wants to do. Anybody that's been a starter in the past, and been playing, they want to play," he said. "To say I don't want to be the starter, that would be ridiculous.

"I absolutely want to start, that's my goal. Hopefully I can achieve that."

To be fair, Manziel also said "it's not the end of the world" if he doesn't upend Brian Hoyer by then. At the end of minicamp, Pettine said Hoyer would be the starter come the beginning of training camp, but he also said Hoyer's lead was not "insurmountable." Manziel said one of the most important lessons he learned at this past week's rookie symposium is to follow veteran players; in Hoyer, he has a quarterback who trained under Tom Brady and from whom he can take a lot.

"What I can learn from him, from a routine standpoint, from a knowledge standpoint, and where I need to get to," he said. "When camp starts, I'll have a better grasp of the playbook. It won't feel like I'm brand new to everything. But still, I think everything coach Pettine said was spot on, that Brian obviously is ahead -- he's been doing this a lot longer than I have. I'm a rookie, and so I have a lot of ground to catch up on."

Manziel said he'll train this next month in Dallas and perhaps in San Diego, with quarterback guru George Whitfield. Manziel acknowledged that his offense at Texas A&M was "a very simple system" and that this one, with the Browns, is more "complex." But he also warned against counting him out.

"Obviously," he said, "I'm very competitive."

Follow Aditi Kinkhabwala on Twitter @AKinkhabwala.

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