Johnny Manziel sloppy, then strong


AKRON, Ohio -- Johnny Manziel took a step forward for the Cleveland Browns during the team's intrasquad scrimmage Saturday at the University of Akron. How large a step is yet to be seen.

Manziel played with the second team, started sloppily and then led the offense on a 16-play drive that nearly culminated in a touchdown. It would have been the only offensive touchdown of the day, but Manziel had a slant dropped at the goal-line by Charles Johnson and saw Gary Barnidge ruled out of bounds in the back corner of the end zone on a nearly perfect pass.

Most of Manziel's plays came as he scrambled, scampered and improvised in a scrimmage where quarterbacks were protected. He made it work in the scrimmage -- Brian Hoyer called it an unscripted practice -- but it remains to be seen if Manziel can make it work in a game when the other team is going all-out.

"For me, it gets better every day," Manziel said. "That's really the story of my life right now. I have to get better. Learn the stuff, continue to get more and more familiar with every single play in our offense, and today helped."

Coach Mike Pettine wasn't making any instant evaluations, but he did notice that Manziel made plays with his feet the way he did in college. Twice, Manziel rolled right and threw just before going out of bounds, somehow managing to squeeze in a pass for a short gain.

On Manziel's mobility, Pettine said: "You can see that's going to be a strength of his, and some of the completions he made on the run, that's playing to his skill set."

Unofficially, Hoyer was 7-for-11 for 56 yards in team drills, and Manziel was 3-for-7 for 14 yards with two runs for another 14 yards. Hoyer had three team drills; Manziel two.

"They both did some really good things, and they both did things they would want to take back," Pettine said.

Not getting in the end zone was most glaring, though Manziel had two almosts -- though in the NFL, "almosts" really don't count for much. Manziel admitted he was sloppy early, too, as it appeared he turned the wrong way on a handoff on the first play and followed with a penalty and a poor throw.

Manziel said the key is to not repeat the mistakes, though he refused to even address where he stands as far as competing with Hoyer for the starting role.

"There's no gap that I'm looking at right now," he said. "It's know the playbook, know everything. There's still so many little things here and there that can throw a play and change a play, and a defensive look. Now I'm seeing it, adjusting, learning. That's what I'm doing, is learning."