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Despite being relegated to the backup quarterback position, the Cleveland Browns’ Johnny Manziel feels more confident as the 2014 NFL season wears on.
This was what Manziel told ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter Jeremy Fowler on Oct. 17, two days before his team was scheduled to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars:
“While Cleveland gets ready to face two teams with rookie starting quarterbacks, Johnny Manziel is running the scout team for the Browns.
“If that changes, however, Manziel feels ‘absolutely’ ready to play based on his growing knowleged of the Browns’ offensive system.
“‘I feel a lot more confident and a lot more comfortable,’ Manziel said. ‘The whole process of being under center a lot more, everything that’s involved in this offense, that just wasn’t anything that I was asked to do at (Texas) A&M. I knew it would take some time.’
“Manziel entered a different situation than Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles and Oakland’s Derek Carr, who play the Browns the next two weeks. They took over teams with inferior quarterback play.
“Meanwhile, Brian Hoyer won the Browns’ job in August and is on pace to throw for close to 4,000 yards and 22 touchdowns.
“Hoyer, however, is a free agent after the season, which Manziel said he hasn’t thought much about. Instead, his focus has been on the Jaguars and the Browns’ two-game winning streak.
“Having to wait to play has ‘been a question for weeks now,’ said Manziel, who signed a four-year contract in June.
“Manziel has been asked several different ways about how he’s coping with his backup role, but he insisted Friday he’s happy for Bortles and Carr.
“‘They are obviously getting the chance to come in early and contribute to their teams,’ Manziel said. ‘That’s their situation there; that could have been my situation here.
“‘So far, that’s not the case. I know Coach (Mike) Pettine is talking about the next man up…That counts for my position, as well.’
“Hoyer has played very well and does things the right way, Manziel said.
“‘For me to get to sit back and watch this for however long this /4/be, I think it’s beneficial,’ Manziel said.”
“He returned to Northeast Ohio thinking about how much life has changed since he became the 22nd overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft and how he longs for the past.
“‘I miss those guys in the locker room. I miss Coach (Kevin) Sumlin. I think it’s for me to say that I miss college life, but this is the decision that I made,’ Manziel said after Friday’s practice. ‘And I knew very well going into the draft last year that it was going to be different for me and going to be a time for me to grow up. That’s the path I chose. And I wanted to stay in college and sleep in and go to class and horse around like I was doing the past couple years, then I should have stayed.’
“But Manziel didn’t stay in school, and now he’s learning how to be a professional as the rookie backup behind starting quarterback Brian Hoyer.”
Manziel also told MCT Regional News he plans to have a conversation with 2013 Heisman Trophy winner and Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston, who has been embroiled in several controversies — most notably shoplifting crab legs from a Tallahassee grocery in May, shouting an obscene sexual phrase on campus in September and being involved in an alleged autograph-for-money scandal this month:
“I’ll reaach out to him and say a little something to him,’ Manziel said. ‘…Jameis is a guy that I’ve had a good relationship with and want to help in as many ways as I can — or if anything I can say or I’ve been through can help him then I would love to do that.
“‘But I think for him right now, just try and let as much time pass by and let some of these things blow over and worry about the position they are in right now and being the best team in the country and worry about football and the ACC. And, really, I think everything else will be OK. He’s continuing to grow up. He’s a young guy, too, but I really think he’ll figure it out as he continues to go on.'”