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Alex Mack: Johnny Manziel can be long-term answer

T.J. Ward can speak from experience about Cleveland's eternal search for a functional quarterback.

Denver's Pro Bowl safety played four seasons with the Browns before joining forces with Peyton Manning and the Broncos, but he still talks with his old teammates, many who remain unsold on the prospects of quarterback Johnny Manziel.

"I still keep in contact with a lot of people out in Cleveland and they give me a little backstory about what's going on sometimes," Ward told The Sports Show, via The Denver Post. "They just really don't know if he's the man or not, basically, and they're trying to get him to mature up and be that guy, but can he?"

It's no secret the Browns consider Manziel -- tucked away in rehab since January -- a sheer wild card at this stage. Coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer have carefully avoided heaping expectations on last year's first-round pick. Manziel's teammates, meanwhile, have openly questioned the quarterback's preparation.

Offensive tackle and team captain Joe Thomas said Manziel lost "a lot of trust among the guys on the team last year by the way he handled himself once he became the starter," but center Alex Mack on Wednesday expressed hope:

Whether or not the players trust their quarterback, Cleveland's front office has already spoken. After scrambling to sign Josh McCown as an underwhelming veteran placeholder, the Brownsattempted to trade for Sam Bradford and remain in play to draft Oregon's Marcus Mariota. Whispers even have Johnny being shipped to another team.

Manziel's successful return to the field would serve as a major boost to Cleveland's talent-poor offense, but the Browns, wisely, aren't waiting around for that to pan out.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast welcomes back Colleen Wolfe to the show and breaks down team needs heading into the draft. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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