Johnny Manziel will be the backup quarterback to Brian Hoyer when the Cleveland Browns begin their Organized Team Activities on May 20, and that is just fine with him. He has plenty of time to convince the decision makers he should be the starter for the season opener in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7.
All eyes were on Manziel during the one day the Browns minicamp was open to the media. That is, all local eyes were on Manziel on May 17. The Browns banned national media because they don't want a media circus to follow Manziel. Head coach Mike Pettine was the defensive coordinator for the Jets when Tim Tebow was with the team, and Pettine does not want a similar distraction affecting the Browns.
"It's a concern. It's something that we have to address," Pettine said of the massive national attention focused to Manziel. "We're well aware of the persona. We're well aware of what it brings. We're excited about it. It's something that we're very willing to have come here, knowing that he has a chance to make us a better football team and a better franchise.
"It's something that we weren't going to turn away from, 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 ruffle some feathers with how we handled some things - I'll apologize in advance for that - but what we're tasked as a staff to do is do what's best for the football team."
Manziel is doing everything he can to convince his new teammates he is leaving his wild college days behind. The Browns made him the 22nd pick of the first round after trading up four spots for the selection belonging to the Philadelphia Eagles, and four days later he was at team headquarters to get a jump on the offense before the minicamp began.
One day after being drafted, Pettine delivered a direct message to Manziel as he looked his quarterback in the eye: "Johnny, right now you're our backup quarterback and you need to act like such."
Some in the national media perceived that as a slap in the face to Johnny Football. Manziel did not.
"I'm a rookie," he 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've done in the past because that doesn't mean a thing at this level. I was completely OK with hearing that from everybody."
Manziel did not separate himself physically from undrafted rookie quarterback Connor Shaw of South Carolina in the portion of practice open to the media, but there is no denying Manziel has a certain magnetism, an "it factor," or any term you choose. Pettine acknowledged it, but he also said Hoyer has that same swagger.
"He's Manziel, right?" said running back Terrance West, the third-round pick who had the honor of taking Manziel's first handoff in practice. "Everybody knows Johnny Manziel. He makes plays. He makes big plays. He's a great player. He's also a leader on the field. That's what he brings to the table."
--Rookie Joel Bitonio played guard in the minicamp and will continue to practice there in the full squad OTAs. He said he can play anywhere on the line. He was a center in high school.
Bitonio was taken with the 35th overall pick. Two years earlier starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz was drafted 37th overall.
--Inside linebacker Christian Kirksey was excused from minicamp on May 17 so he could return to the University of Iowa to graduate with a degree in leisure studies.