"It's a process for me," Manziel said Thursday in his first media session since camp opened July 26. "It's not something that I should just come in here naturally because I played well in college and just know how to run this offense.
"It's a complete 180 from everything that I've been used to. And it's going to take time. It's a process coming from a spread, air raid system in college to a pro style system that's very unfamiliar [to] me as far as terminology and routes."
He quickly added it's not something he can't master but the words for the first-round draft pick were telling. He termed his first week full of "ups and downs" and admitted "it's still a struggle" until he is totally comfortable with play calls and the system.
Just as telling are the actions on the field. Though offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said he has yet to judge who is ahead or behind in the quarterback chase, Manziel has yet to take a single snap with the starters.
"I'm not worried about one or the other being ahead right now," Manziel said of himself and Brian Hoyer. "It's me making sure I know what I need to know, getting out there and running the offense and not having any mistakes. Once I go through a couple days with non-mental errors or getting to where I need to be every single time, then I'll feel a lot better."
Which, of course, would imply that Manziel has not been avoiding mental errors and has not thrown the ball where it needs to go every time.
"I'm a rookie," he said. "I don't have all this stuff figured out. I don't know the ins and outs and every little nook and cranny. Sometimes there's a little twist on a play and you can go in there and forget to say it in the huddle -- and from that it changes the whole dynamic."
Manziel said this shortly after coach Mike Pettine said Manziel is ahead of where he expected the young quarterback to be when it comes to the mental part of the game, and after Shanahan refused to gauge the competition except to say it would sort itself out. For his part, Hoyer said he's learning but there's "a long way to go."
"I'm trying to do the things that I can do to be the best quarterback for this team," Hoyer said. "There isn't a lot of talk about [the competition], and until things are said to me, I'm kind of approaching it the same way every day."
Pettine said he would soon start giving Manziel opportunities with the starters. Things could change, though, in Saturday's scrimmage at the University of Akron and the preseason games, where Manziel will have a better chance to display what he can do.
But Manziel said he would not have a lot of freedom in the scrimmage and that the Browns want to see him handle the play that is called.
"I think I'll play whenever these coaches decide that I'm ready," Manziel said. "I don't think there's any rush. For me, it's whenever Coach Pettine, Coach Shanahan and the staff here decide that. I don't think they want to throw me into a situation I'm not ready for or something I can't handle. I don't know if they drafted me necessarily thinking that I should come in and start Week 1. I think they wanted to see where I'm at and how I progress."
Shanahan said Hoyer has done a good job executing the plays and going through the progressions with the receivers.
"Johnny has continued to progress as a quarterback -- doing some things he didn't do in college and at the same time not losing what he is," Shanahan said. "He's trying to still make those same plays you guys saw in college and trying to learn when to let a play develop and when to abort the play and get out of the pocket and do what he does best."