Manziel given leash as Browns’ starter

Metro Canada (Winnipeg) - - METRO SPORTS -

There was no for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion or fan­fare. No torch pass­ing cer­e­mony.

Browns coach Mike Pet­tine sim­ply pulled Johnny Manziel aside and told him he would be Cleve­land’s start­ing quar­ter­back for the re­main­der of this sea­son.

No longer just a cel­e­brated bad-boy backup, Manziel joined an elite class.

The trick will be stay­ing there.

Manziel’s bud­ding pro ca­reer, dot­ted mostly by mis­steps on and off the field to this point — the NFL said Tues­day he will not be dis­ci­plined for a do­mes­tic case — seems to be fi­nally headed in the right di­rec­tion for him. Now, the Browns will find out if he can be their fran­chise QB.

Fresh off a strong start at Pitts­burgh on Sun­day, Manziel moved ahead of vet­eran Josh McCown on the depth chart, a switch that will ei­ther usher in a new era for the Browns or send them scram­bling again to fill a trou­ble­some po­si­tion.

“I wanted the chance to be the guy and that was al­ways my goal,” said Manziel, who was watch­ing film be­fore Pet­tine told him the news. “I’m ex­cited, I think as I should be. This is a great op­por­tu­nity with a great group of guys that are go­ing to go out and fight with me ev­ery week.”

Pet­tine made the change be­fore the team’s first bye-week prac­tice, two days af­ter Manziel passed for a ca­reer-high 372 yards in a 30-9 loss to the Steel­ers. He also flashed a few of those Johnny Foot­ball mo­ments that won him the Heis­man Tro­phy at Texas A&M.

Af­ter fum­bling on his first play, Manziel re­grouped and com­pleted 33 of 45 passes with one touch­down. He didn’t lead the Browns (2-8) to vic­tory, but Manziel showed he’s learn­ing from his mis­takes, grow­ing more com­fort­able in the pocket and ready to take his big­gest step yet.

“The per­for­mance against Pitts­burgh val­i­dated for us the progress he’s made and the im­prove­ment he’s shown and that he de­serves this op­por­tu­nity,” Pet­tine said.

This will give us an op­por­tu­nity to see how far he’s come and what he’s ca­pa­ble of. Browns coach Mike Pet­tine

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Johnny Manziel

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