Manziel trying to win back team’s trust
CLEVELAND (AP) — Making his first follow-up steps on his pledge after leaving rehab, Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel is trying to earn back his teammates’ trust and respect with his actions.
Manziel, recently released after spending more than 70 days in a Pennsylvania treatment facility to get help for an undisclosed issue, started anew with the team Monday by reporting to Cleveland’s offseason program. Manziel did not address the team as a group, but Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden said the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner stayed at the team’s headquarters three hours longer than required.
“He’s just really happy to be back and seems really, really motivated,” Haden said. “I think he’s got his mind right, and he’s just ready to get it going.”
Manziel did not meet with the media on Tuesday, leaving a few of his teammates and coach Mike Pettine to discuss his return to the Browns after a personally turbulent off-season.
Haden, who is one of Manziel’s closest friends on the team, believes the young QB is eager to prove that he can be counted upon.
“Actions speak a lot louder than words,” Haden said. “He has a lot to show the people, but he’s trying his best.”
The Browns have remained supportive of Manziel during his recovery, but at some point the team will have to decide if he’s their long-term answer on the field. That day could still be months off, and in the interim, Manziel must display the leadership qualities and commitment that were missing during his rookie season.
Manziel only made two starts and played seven quarters last season, when he backed up Brian Hoyer for the first 13 games. There remains doubt about whether the former Texas A&M star can be a successful pro, but Haden is certain Manziel can succeed in the NFL.
“One thousand percent,” Haden said.
Pettine has spoken privately with Manziel, whom the Browns drafted in the first round last year. Pettine did not share any of his conversation with Manziel except to say the 22-year-old knows he has a long way to go to change people’s minds about him. And like Haden, Pettine believes Manziel is highly motivated.
“This is the one comment that I’ll share that Johnny’s made because he’ll be the first one to say it: ‘Don’t judge me on my words, judge me on my actions,”’ Pettine said. “That’s something that in the past, even I’ve been critical of him where the actions have to match what he’s saying.”
The Browns signed free agent quarterback Josh McCown during the offseason, and there’s a chance they could make a run at Oregon’s Marcus Mariota in the upcoming draft. But Pettine said Manziel remains in the mix to play for Cleveland.
“He’s very much in our plans and as we said, his career with us just hit the pause button,” Pettine said. “He’s got to get himself right as a person first before we worry about Johnny the football player.”
Manziel hasn’t shied away from the spotlight since his release from rehab on April. He attended two pro sports events while in Texas and he sat courtside on Sunday in Cleveland as the Cavaliers opened the playoffs against Boston.
There has been some criticism of Manziel for being so public after his rehab stay, but he was invited to the game by good friend LeBron James, whose marketing group represents the quarterback.
“He’s our guest,” James said. “He’s part of the family.”
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