Evidently Johnny Manziel broke the cardinal rule of Twitter: Never post for the public what is intended as a direct message.

The Cleveland Browns quarterback appeared to post his phone number on Twitter on Friday night.

A tweet just before 7 p.m. ET had only a 10-digit phone number, with an area code that includes San Antonio and Kerrville, Texas, where Manziel is from.

The tweet was deleted soon after it appeared, but as everyone knows, a tweet that's seen for 30 seconds can reach a lot of people. The number was retweeted more than 300 times in less than 30 seconds.

It would make sense that the tweet was intended as a direct message, as those go to one individual rather than the entire world -- or at least the part of it that is following you.

Manziel quickly became the butt of jokes on Twitter, and just more than an hour after the number was posted, the mailbox for the number he posted was full.

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A single point to ponder

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31
The Browns' opponents this season have gone 21-33. That .389 winning percentage is the worst in the league.

Fantasy: Josh Gordon

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31


Christopher Harris analyzes Josh Gordon for Week 9.

Fantasy: Ben Tate

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31


Christopher Harris analyzes Ben Tate for Week 9.

Brandian Ross fined $22,050 for hit

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31

NEW YORK -- Oakland safety Brandian Ross has been fined $22,050 for his hit on Browns tight end Jordan Cameron that gave Cameron at least his third concussion in three seasons on Sunday.

The NFL announced the fine Friday.

Cameron was struck in the back of the head by Ross in the second quarter while making a diving 21-yard catch. He walked to the locker room under his own power and did not return.

Also, Detroit Lions safety James Ihedigbo was fined $10,000 for unnecessary roughness and teammate OL Garrett Reynolds was docked $22,050 for a blindside block against the Falcons.

Arizona CB Jerraud Powers was fined $16,537 for horse-collar tackle against Philadelphia while Eagles DE Trent Cole was fined $22,050 for hitting Cardinals QB Carson Palmer in head during the same game.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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BEREA, Ohio -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns ranked 32nd in the league in total offense and total defense.

Which would be last in both categories.

Some coaches might address that with their players to ensure they do not overlook the poorly ranked team.
Not Mike Pettine, who said he addresses it by not addressing it.

"To me, when you’re playing in this league you always have to assume you’re going to get a team’s best," Pettine said.

He continued, logically as usual.

"Are they looking at us as the -- what are we now defensively? 20-something? I don’t think the last couple weeks that we’ve played that way, but that’s what the numbers are," he said.

He pointed out that Pittsburgh struggled against the Browns but rolled up more than 50 points on the Colts, that the Browns struggled in Jacksonville when on paper it might have appeared they would not.

"You always have to have the utmost respect for who you’re playing," he said. "Know that it’s an NFL team, and you have to expect to see them at their very best."
No position in sports has evolved more than quarterback, a notion veteran college football reporter Bruce Feldman deftly chronicles in his new book, "The QB: The Making of Modern Quarterbacks."

Part of the book focuses on how Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel navigated the height of his mushrooming fame, around the time he appeared at SEC Media Days in July 2013 as Texas A&M's reigning Heisman winner. I figured this would be a good chance to take Browns fans into what exactly Manziel was dealing with in college.

Here's an excerpt from the scene in Birmingham, Alabama, when his role in an autograph scandal was in the news:
By this point of the offseason, the hype around Manziel had surpassed the hype around Tim Tebow at the peak of his media frenzy. Before Manziel was ushered around to a dozen different media platforms and interview sessions, he was brought to the main ESPN stage, where he was grilled by host Joe Tessitore for 10 minutes. Manziel, after having spent much of the previous 48 hours with PR coaches, did his best to downplay the story. His answers were measured. His smile was ready. He repeatedly pointed out that he was still a twenty-year-old kid who could make mistakes and who still wanted to live his life. At one point, he told Tessitore that he sometimes felt like Justin Bieber — a comment that, no doubt, made NFL personnel men wince.

“I’m not going to change who I am because of the spotlight,” he said, but he added that he would “adapt.”

Later, he told reporters at the print-media session, “At the end of the day, I’m not going for a Miss America pageant. I’m playing football.”

Feldman also recounts a moment with Manziel away from the spotlight.
Weeks earlier, when he is told he is like a guy who is fifty pounds overweight and trying to diet, only he keeps breaking down and gorging on ice cream and sweets, reasoning to himself, “I don’t need abs. I already got the hot girl,” Manziel smiled and nodded. He was neither embarrassed nor proud of it. He seemed simply resigned to it. As if that was just how he’d been wired. Manziel knew he didn’t have it all figured out, he said. Many times he got angry at himself for how he responded to things, but it always seemed to work out. Somehow.

Nothing punctuated Manziel's impact like the ESPYs after-party, where Manziel and LeBron James were the athletes whose images were displayed in the background.

Feldman writes about an exchange with A&M coach Kevin Sumlin: Asked, how does all this not mess with the head of a twenty-year-old, Sumlin laughed. “It messed with my head.”
BEREA, Ohio -- Competitor who wants to play? Sure.

Frustrated with his backup role? Johnny Manziel won't go there.

Two days after Cleveland Browns coach Mike Pettine said he could sense frustration from his first-round pick because of his competitive nature, an introspective Manziel sounded appreciative of the chance to play the background.

"I'm sure there are signs of this being a different situation for me," said Manziel, who's gone from Texas A&M star quarterback to running scout team reps as a rookie. "I don't feel frustrated. Obviously being a competitor I want to play, but there is a difference."

Manziel is sitting behind Brian Hoyer, who's 4-3 as the starter, but still garners attention because of the hype surrounding his Heisman Trophy-winning career at Texas A&M, the contingent of Browns fans that wants to see him play and the interest in his personal life fueled by social media.

Manziel doesn't seems interested in feeding that beast right now.

"No focus, no attention needs to be really placed on me," Manziel said. "I'm doing little things to try to help this team get better throughout the week, but when it comes to Sundays, obviously I'm not out there directly contributing ... I think I'm just where I need to be and kind of falling back a little bit is good for me and I like it."

Completely falling out of the spotlight seems far-fetched. He's a topic around here. But Manziel is doing his best to redirect energy to a team playing well, with a good chance to go 5-3 on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sitting has reinforced Manziel's desire to play quality NFL football but also reminds him of training camp -- when he had a chance to win the job.

"I think I'm still extremely hungry," Manziel said. "I still feel, obviously coming out of training camp, I was disappointed and I wanted to play better. At the same time I am a rookie and I can't be too hard on myself. I remember thinking back to the days I was learning the offense at A&M, it was frustrating. It's like that for everybody coming into a new system and a new place a long way from home. There are a lot of things that were going on in my life where now I'm settled in and a lot more comfortable with everything that's going on on a daily basis."

Rookie left guard Joel Bitonio rooms with Manziel on the road and has noticed a player who's serious about his football. Whether breaking down college games on Saturdays or lifting weights early in the week, Manziel is always intentional, Bitonio said.

"He seems like he wants to be good at it," Bitonio said. "You can tell he wants to be a good football player in the NFL. He's been putting in the work in the weight room. You can tell, the day after the game he hasn't played but he comes in and works his tail off in the weight room, trying to stay in shape in case he has to play."

This could be an example of Manziel working to quash the perceptions that surround him, fair or not. His goal, he said, is not to burden teammates with any off-field distractions. He admits he's a "reserved guy" in the locker room.

"When I'm here in the building is a lot different for me than life outside away from the building," Manziel said. "I feel at times the people think I'm always going, always doing this -- that's not always the case. It just always seems to get out that way and you hear about it. ... The thing I've tried to do since I got here is to let these guys know it's not all it's chalked up to be and it's not all the hype that it is. If you ask guys here, they'd say that's been the case."

Jordan Cameron out Sunday

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31

BEREA, Ohio -- Jordan Cameron will not play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

The Cleveland Browns tight end was ruled out for the game because of a concussion. Cameron was injured during the team's win against Oakland.

The situation at least raises the question of whether Cameron will be back for the road game against Cincinnati on Thursday night, four days after the Bucs game.

"That's always a concern when you have fewer days, sure," coach Mike Pettine said.

It's the third time in just more than two years that Cameron has missed time with a concussion, and the second time this season he's missed a game due to injury. He also did not play against New Orleans earlier this season, a game the Browns won with a last-minute field goal.

With Cameron out, the Browns will go with Jim Dray and Gary Barnidge.

"There are certain things that Jordan can do that he's special at," offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "I think Jordan has a lot of talent, especially stretching the field, but I do feel very good about Barnidge and Dray stepping in. They're both good run blockers and they both can help us in the pass game.

"You don't feature them as much [as] you would a Pro Bowl tight end, but as far as going vs. zones and stuff and even some man-to-man situations, I think we'll be all right."

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Prediction: Browns will beat Bucs

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31

The Browns righted their ship in an ugly win over Oakland, which proved that ugly doesn’t matter as long as the scoreboard says it’s a victory.

This game is in Cleveland and the last five weeks the Bucs have played teams that are a combined 18-21 and lost four-of-five -- and given up 36.8 points per game in the five games.

The Bucs rank dead last in the league in total defense and are devoted to the Tampa-2, which puts safeties deep in coverage and also drops the middle linebacker as well. The Bucs have talent, but if the Browns can’t get their post-Alex Mack running game going against them it does not bode well for the rest of the season.

The Browns will find it tough again, but they will prevail

My prediction: Cleveland 24, Tampa Bay 13.

BEREA, Ohio -- Jordan Cameron will likely be an attractive long-term option as the Cleveland Browns cement their 2015 plans.

A look at the Browns' usage of Cameron on the field, however, suggests that he faces a steep climb to post big numbers entering his first crack at free agency.

Cameron, who is questionable for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay with a concussion, thrived in last season’s pass-often offense with 80 catches for 917 yards and seven touchdowns. This season, not only has he battled an early-season shoulder injury and a concussion, he’s not always being used like his “Pass Catcher” twitter bio suggests. Cameron has 13 catches for 250 yards and a score in six games.

If we learned anything from Jimmy Graham's free agency tussle with the Saints, “pass catcher” is code for “I want to be paid like a receiver."

According to ESPN stats and info, Cameron has lined up 197 snaps as a traditional tight end this season, compared to 43 snaps in the slot, 18 out wide and 15 in the backfield.

His 61 total snaps at receiver (in the slot or on the edge) ranks 32nd among tight ends. For comparison, Carolina’s Greg Olsen was first with 230 snaps at wideout prior to the Panthers' game with New Orleans on Thursday night.

Cameron is a focal point of the Browns' passing game. Under first-year Browns coordinator Kyle Shanahan, however, Cleveland has run the ball 225 times compared to 125 passes. That 64.2 percent rushing clip trumps last year’s 47.8 percent.

Cameron, the top option while Josh Gordon is suspended, has less than 30 targets as we head toward the season's midpoint, meaning his numbers will be down save a late-season explosion.

Cameron has hired CAA to handle his free agency. CAA knows tight ends. It negotiated Graham’s and Jason Witten’s deals in the last three years. No doubt part of the conversation with the Browns will stress Cameron’s worth beyond his 2014 stat line, which is fairly obvious when watching the team. He’s crucial to what they do, especially in play-action.

Perhaps those conversations won’t matter if the Browns decide to use a franchise tag on Cameron, which could cost around $8 million in 2015.

Cousin Sal makes his picks for week 9 in the NFL.
BEREA, Ohio -- At least three Browns players are attending the Cleveland Cavaliers' home opener Thursday, fueled byLeBron James' stirring new Nike commercial highlighting the city's union released on the same day of his much-publicized return to the team he signed with as a rookie.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James and Johnny Manziel
Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer/LandovLeBron James has visited the Browns a couple of times this fall, and Johnny Manziel and others planned to return the favor Thursday.
Cornerback Joe Haden will be there, and after five years with the Browns, he's seen some bad basketball since James first left in 2010.

He, too, wants his team to win for Northeast Ohio.

"The way [James has] basically saying he's doing it for the city, he feels entitled to come back and win a championship for the city, that's something in this locker room wants to do," Haden said. "For him to show that [love] to Cleveland and the fans, that's really special."

The Browns (4-3), who play Tampa Bay on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, are getting a lift from the Cavs' energy, Haden said. Buzz is palpable, and it's only something locals can understand.

Haden bought season tickets aligning with the Cavs bench so he and James can be eye-to-eye, he joked.

"Being a part of it, being here, being downtown, interacting with the fans all the time, they are serious about how much they love their sports," Haden said. "It's just a good feeling. You can't really explain, can't really put your finger on it. It excites everybody."

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel also was scheduled to attend the Cavs' opener against the Knicks.

ESPN Browns reporter Jeremy Fowler discusses the team's new incentive for those on defense: a spiked black dog collar for players, who can earn and add charms for exceptional-effort plays.
BEREA, Ohio -- Most every Football 101 Manual has the chapter: How to beat the Cover 2.

In its most simplistic definition, it's a defense that places two safeties deep in the middle of the field, with a middle linebacker buzzing in front of them and cornerbacks keeping plays in front as well.

The idea: Force teams to take the long route, be patient and play mistake-free.

The manual states that the way to drive a team out of Cover 2 is to run the ball, force the safety to move closer to the line and then throw over him.

[+] EnlargePaul Posluszny
Richard Dole/USA TODAY SportsThe Browns have struggled to run the ball the past two weeks, but it remains a priority for them, especially against Tampa Bay's Cover 2 scheme.
It’s some time-honored traditional thinking that sets up an interesting matchup for the Cleveland Browns Sunday when they play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home.

Bucs coach Lovie Smith is a disciple of Tony Dungy, and Dungy was the master of the Cover 2. The Cover 2 was so identified with Dungy it eventually became known as the Tampa 2. Smith worked under Dungy for years with the Bucs, then took the Tampa 2 to Chicago, and now that he’s coach of the Bucs he has brought it back to Tampa Bay.

Which of course leads to the Browns' running game averaging 54 yards per game the past two weeks, when Oakland and Jacksonville stacked the line, often with an extra safety, to stop the run. Which of course leads to the theory that perhaps this might be a good opportunity for the Browns to get the run game going -- because they’re playing a defense that is set up to keep a safety deep as opposed to close to the line.

Browns Tight end Gary Barndige, who figures to play more if Jordan Cameron is out with a concussion, sort of bought into the theory.

"But any defense anybody plays you can get the running game (going)," he said. "Just as long as everybody is on the details. If everybody is not on the details, it’s hard to get the run going."

Spoken like a veteran who does not want to a) disparage the opposition or b) reveal too much.

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan echoed Barnidge’s feelings about the details, pointing out the Browns had several runs against Oakland that could have been big gains had the details been heeded.

"I’d say we had about seven of those opportunities," Shanahan said, "but when we did have those opportunities one guy missed. It takes 11 guys to run the ball."

Defending the run and stopping the run is an interesting dynamic. Dan Marino always called it an attitude, and said it required commitment. The Browns have the commitment, but they didn’t necessarily have the production the past two weeks. Against Oakland, though, the Browns kept running, which forced the Raiders to honor play-action.

Because the Browns figure they always need to run, they don’t necessarily see any great advantage playing a Tampa 2 team.

"We’re not going into this game saying, ‘Oh they run the Tampa 2 let’s go run the ball, this is our chance,'" guard John Greco said. "We don’t care if they run goal-line every play, the mindset is what we need to do to run the ball efficiently and effectively."

The Browns also don’t want to assume anything. Tampa Bay has talent on defense. Shanahan called defensive tackle Gerald McCoy "an extreme problem," and lineman Michael Johnson and linebacker Lavonte David are both very good players.

That helps buttress another tenet of the Tampa 2 -- the pass rush is generated from the front four.

"That front’s very dependent on their personnel," coach Mike Pettine said. "And they personnel it very well."

Pettine said the Bucs will mix their defenses more than some Cover 2 teams, showing one coverage and switching to another. He also pointed out Tampa 2 teams are built for that style, so the personnel fits.

"They can sit in lighter spacing and play Cover 2 and keep the safeties deep and still be effective against the run," Pettine said. "Anytime that you can be a defense and play what we would consider 'lighter spacing' and defend the run, that’s advantage you."

Shanahan doesn’t like the numbers produced by the offense the past two games when running the ball, but he’s not alarmed either, because he said it's expected that someone eventually will stop an offense. He also harkened back to something he always said about quarterbacks: NFL defenses eventually take away what you do best, so it’s wise to be ready with something else.

"Eventually, someone’s going to take (the run game) away, and when they do, usually, it opens up a lot of other stuff," Shanahan said, adding: "We want people to feel like they have to commit to stop something, because when they do have to commit to stop something, it makes other stuff easier."