Johnny Manziel makes anticipated NFL debut Saturday at Lions
Former Texas A&M quarterback and college football lightning rod Johnny Manziel will make his long-awaited NFL debut tonight when the Cleveland Browns open their preseason schedule against the Detroit Lions.
Manziel’s in a battle for the starting spot with incumbent Brian Hoyer, but has closed the gap in recent weeks.
“I think we all see what Manziel can do,” Brown coach Mike Pettine said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “He can make plays with his feet, but I think he’s maybe better than we thought in the pocket as well.”
Manziel won’t start and isn’t expected to play with any first-teamers when he’s subbed in. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport says Manziel will replace Hoyer at some point in the first half.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 8, 2014
Speaking to reporters after training camp this week, Manziel said his confidence is growing.
“I have a long way to go,” Manziel said. “I have a lot to learn, a lot more to get comfortable with and I feel that I’m getting better. I definitely feel my comfort level out here on the field growing day by day and I think these coaches and the players that are around us are all helping me get better.”
Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman in 2012 after posting an SEC-record for total yards in a season. During the regular season, Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Cleveland selected Manziel in the first round hoping to spark some life into a franchise that has not reached the playoffs since 2003.
Two other Cleveland quarterbacks, Tyler Thigpen and South Carolina rookie Connor Shaw, could also see action. Tickets for tonight’s game at Ford Field range from $16 in the upper corners to $2,755 in the mid-level suites.
The game will be televised on NFL Network.