Alou­ettes quar­ter­back Johnny Manziel "happy" with first taste of CFL

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL SPORTS -

Johnny Manziel says he's con­tent with his life in the CFL af­ter com­plet­ing his first sea­son.

The former Heis­man Tro­phy-win­ning quar­ter­back, who be­gan the sea­son on the bench with the Hamil­ton Tiger-cats, fin­ished the year with eight starts for the Mon­treal Alou­ettes and a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the game north of the bor­der.

“I'm happy here right now,'' Manziel told re­porters on Sun­day dur­ing the Alou­ettes' sea­son-end­ing me­dia avail­abil­ity.

“Foot­ball prob­a­bly got to a point in the past for me where it was about money and I'm com­fort­able right now. I'm com­fort­able with a great group of team­mates, I'm com­fort­able in a great city like Mon­treal.

“I'm happy be­ing back on the field and I don't know if that would be the sit­u­a­tion in an­other league. But I'm happy with where I'm at and what's go­ing on and the op­por­tu­nity to com­pete and play ball.''

Manziel made head­lines across North Amer­ica when he signed with Hamil­ton af­ter a tem­pes­tu­ous and short-lived NFL ca­reer. But the 25-year-old saw zero reg­u­lar-sea­son ac­tion with the Tiger-cats be­fore be­ing dealt to Mon­treal on July 22.

He missed time with a con­cus­sion and lost six straight starts with the Als - he didn't throw his first TD pass un­til Sept. 30 in a home loss to the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers - and se­cured his first win on Oct. 28 in a 40-10 rout of the vis­it­ing Toronto Arg­onauts.

Manziel said he started feel­ing more com­fort­able with the CFL style as the sea­son went on.

“It's com­fort all the way around,'' he said. “When I re­ally feel com­fort­able with what I'm do­ing and what the scheme is and con­cepts that I've ran a mil­lion times be­fore, you see a big dif­fer­ence in those plays and plays that are new to me that are more Cfl-based con­cepts.

“The more I got reps with those plays the more I felt bet­ter with the whole en­tirety of the play­book.''

Manziel made his eighth and fi­nal start of the sea­son for Mon­treal on Satur­day - a 30-28 win in Hamil­ton - com­plet­ing four-of-five passes for 59 yards be­fore giv­ing way to An­to­nio Pip­kin in the sec­ond quar­ter.

The 25-year-old fin­ished the year with 106 com­ple­tions in 165 at­tempts and threw 1,290 yards with five touch­downs and seven in­ter­cep­tions. He is un­der con­tract for one more sea­son with the Als. “I didn't re­ally know what to ex­pect when I got here, but this league has ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions as far as tal­ent and what kind of league this is,'' Manziel said. “It ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions as to what kind of guys we have in this locker-room and what kind of peo­ple are in this or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“It's been a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence . ... I'm un­der­stand­ing what this league is about scheme-wise and learn­ing a lot of things I didn't know be­fore. So great learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and I'm re­ally look­ing for­ward to be­ing able to piece that all to­gether.''

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