“I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see him,” the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator said on Thursday. “He’s been one of the top football players in the nation not for one year but for several years. You look at his offensive numbers and it’s not a magic wand that he’s waving out there. He’s creating those situations and making plays. They’re going to be wanting to bring him along and get him some game action. I’m sure of that.”
How much game action Manziel sees in the 1 p.m. ET game remains to be seen.
Browns coach Mike Pettine has been coy about Manziel’s role, and he has publicly said that starting quarterback Brian Hoyer doesn’t have to worry about getting yanked from the game early if Cleveland’s offense struggles.
LeBeau praised Hoyer and said he "has a lot of respect for him," but he has been preparing for Manziel in some form since the early part of training camp. LeBeau said the Steelers will have to adjust if Manziel plays against them in the season opener.
“You do have to treat him a little bit differently,” LeBeau said. “Some guys you can take a little more liberties with [when rushing the passer], but he’ll be gone in a minute. You have be coordinated in your rush. It comes down to execution more than anything.”
The Steelers have downplayed the significance of getting the first crack at Manizel in the regular season assuming the former Heisman Trophy winner plays on Sunday.
“I don’t think we want to just treat him like he’s all-world but we’re going to respect his talent,” defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “He did it at a high level in college and he’s looking to do it again. We have to look to show him this is the NFL now.”