Manziel: 'I need to earn my place'


BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns say they are not shying away from the hype and attention that Johnny Manziel brings to the team.

"Cleveland is hopeful, as we all are, that he will become Johnny Football here," Browns coach Mike Pettine said Saturday.

As for being told he was a backup to Brian Hoyer, Manziel shrugged, and said he understood his standing.

"I'm a rookie," Manziel said. "I need to earn my place. I need to earn my keep. Nothing here needs to be handed to me. I don't need to be treated based off what I did in the past because that doesn't mean a thing at this level."

Pettine agreed that Manziel is going to have to "earn" his stardom in the NFL.

"He knows that if he wants to be Johnny Football in the NFL, that he's got to earn it," Pettine said. "I think that's at the end of the tunnel for him, but he still has to travel through that tunnel."

Saturday was Manziel's second practice at a rookie minicamp, and he showed it's clearly not his first rodeo in his session with the local media -- national members not allowed.

In one 10-minute interview, Manziel showed the combination of swagger, belief and sense of reality that Pettine said makes for a successful NFL quarterback.

"We talked about the 'it' factor," Pettine said. "And he's got it."

Interviews don't earn jobs or win games, but "it" was evident when Manziel spoke. He even clarified some details about the now-famous text he sent to quarterback coach Dowell Loggains the night of the draft -- the one when he said he wanted to come to the Browns and "wreck the league."

"I don't know if that's exactly it word for word, whether it's exactly quotable," Manziel said, standing at a podium inside the team's indoor practice facility. "But it was something along those lines."

That won't stop production of all the "wreck the league" T-shirts being printed in Cleveland, but Manziel matter of factly added: "I don't want to come in and be mediocre."

Manziel also urged Loggains to "hurry up" and draft him, but Manziel said that was because he had heard another team was trying to get him.

"I don't know what kind of influence that had or what exactly that did, but this is the place I wanted to be," Manziel said.

The rookie minicamp, which concludes Sunday, also includes the team's other draft picks and undrafted free agents, as well as numerous players taking part on a tryout basis.

During the time open to the media, Manziel stretched, handed off, and threw short passes.

Manziel looks short, but his height hasn't changed since draft day and his teammates see more than height.

"He's Johnny Manziel, right?" running back Terrance West said. "Everybody knows Johnny Manziel."

That is part of the reason why the Browns took the approach they did with this camp. They know that as offseason practices and the final minicamp arrive, all media will be permitted to watch. They know training camp is open to the media and to fans as well.

What they wanted to do this weekend was minimize the circus they know is coming.

"We're well aware of the persona," Pettine said. "We're well aware what it brings. We're excited about it."

The Browns' decision forced some media types to cancel flights and plans, and led to criticism that the Browns should have expected increased attention and mania when they drafted Manziel.

"It's something that we weren't going to turn away from," Pettine said. "But as the head coach, it's all about football for me and it's all about the team. I know it already has and it probably will continue to do that -- it will ruffle some feathers with how we handle some things. And I'll apologize in advance for that.

"What we're tasked as a staff to do is do what's best for the football team. So if there's something that we feel that we can control that will limit the distractions that this will bring, then we're going to go ahead and do it. It's something that I know won't be the most popular thing, especially on a national level. But we also feel that the credibility of the Browns as far as what stock we have nationally, I don't think we're very highly thought of given the recent history of the team."