Consider Johnny Manziel's shoulder healed. But that doesn't mean it's not a lingering concern for Texas A&M.
The Aggies' star sophomore completed 25 of 35 passes for 305 yards, four touchdown passes and just one interception. But the play-calling was indicative of a coaching staff that didn't want the Heisman Trophy winner to get his jersey dirty too soon. He rushed just four times for a season-low 11 yards, and completed mostly shorter, high-percentage throws for modest yardage in the early going. Vanderbilt, on most Manziel throws, didn't even have a chance for a sack because Manziel was releasing the ball almost immediately after taking the Aggies' customary shotgun snap.
Manziel was on fire from the opening kickoff, completing 10 of 10 passes on the opening drive to open a 7-0 lead on Vanderbilt Saturday, and led four touchdown drives with three touchdown passes in barely more than first-quarter play. He led a 13-play, 75-yard drive with precision passing to open the game, and at one point later had completed 16 of 18.
Manziel ran sparingly on the opening series, and protected himself with a slide at the end of his only rush of TAMU's first drive. It was the sort of slide Manziel hates; just two yards short of a first down. Manziel connected for his third touchdown pass with star receiver Mike Evans on a 43-yard go route, beating standout Vandy cornerback Andre Hal with deep speed off an easy release at the line of scrimmage. Of the few incompletions Manziel had, at least two were well-thrown drops by receivers, including a 4th-and-1 drop by receiver Malcome Kennedy that should have been easy.
One series later, Manziel made his first big mistake of the half, throwing to a well-covered Evans along the right sideline, resulting in a deflection by Hal into the arms of safety Kenny Ladler for an interception. The turnover resulted in a touchdown drive for the Commodores, to pull the score within 28-17. Manziel was 20-of-27 passing for 242 yards at the end of the first half.
Manziel put the game away early in the third quarter. However, with the same caution exercised with the play-calling, TAMU coach Kevin Sumlin removed Manziel once the outcome was beyond doubt.
Manziel injured his throwing shoulder against Auburn last week, leaving the game and coming back to finish a failed comeback attempt in a 45-41 home loss for the Aggies. He did not throw at practice Monday, with his arm outfitted with a sling, but progressed throughout the week well enough to make his 21st career start.