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Tough work now underway for Manziel

5/28/2014

BEREA, Ohio -- "Quiet" was the operative word as the Cleveland Browns talked about their much-ballyhooed rookie quarterback Wednesday.

Johnny Manziel is "quiet," coach Mike Pettine said.

So did Brian Hoyer. And so did Joe Thomas, who said Manziel was doing well to be quiet.

"Rookies are supposed to be seen and not heard," Thomas said.

Let the acclimation of Johnny Football into the Browns continue.

Based on one offseason practice in shorts, it's wise not to make fast judgments. There's a long way to go and much to learn. At this point, all that can be said is the Browns quarterbacks as a group have to be among the shortest in the league.

None really distinguished himself, though Hoyer was probably the best (despite an interception on his first throw in team drills) and Tyler Thigpen probably struggled the most.

After the practice, general manager Ray Farmer appeared on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland and said that right now Hoyer is the better quarterback "by a substantial margin."

Manziel looked like a rookie who's had the world thrown at him. Though Pettine said the lack of a playbook in college means little because Texas A&M ran a complex offense, the Browns coach was quick to list the things Manziel has to learn that go with a pro offense -- the formation, the cadence, putting the right player in motion, the protection.

This was only Manziel's second practice with the full team, and it followed three weekend days with rookies only. It's normal that a rookie's head would be spinning at this point. Witness that Hoyer, a veteran, had growing pains during Browns training camp last season then played well when given a chance.

On the pecking order, Hoyer was with the first team, Thigpen the second and Manziel the third -- though things were jumbled a bit because Hoyer did not do all the full-team drills.

Pettine said the Browns are simply giving Manziel the basic plays and routes and that in this setting the team is not taking advantage of his strength, which is his mobility. That will all come later.

"You don't take a guy that's made a living being a mobile quarterback and tell him all of a sudden he's going to be a statue," Pettine said.

That means reading too much into anything is silly. Manziel did, though, show an inclination to throw across his body in some footwork drills when throwing left. His low release could be an issue with taller defenders -- his final throw in practice was knocked down -- but he also had some nice throws, including one over the middle to new tight end Jim Dray and another on an out pattern to new receiver Andrew Hawkins. Otherwise, it was quite simply another day for Manziel to learn.

The NFL draft is an interesting event. It builds players up, celebrates them when they're taken and follows them when they arrive.

But in the end, how they do comes down to learning a system, practicing and playing physical and smart. The initial experience can be a challenge, the learning curve steep. Once it starts, it's a grind -- especially when training camp arrives.

Peyton Manning went through it. So did Tim Couch and every other player drafted into the league.

Fighting through it is the first step to success. Not even Johnny Football can avoid going through the process.

In that regard, he's right where he should be.