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Browns Not Guaranteeing Johnny Manziel Starting Job

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
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(photo by Chris J Allen/92.3 The Fan)

(photo by Chris J Allen/92.3 The Fan)

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CANTON (AP) — Johnny Manziel has a Heisman Trophy, celebrity friends and fame.

At the moment, he doesn’t have a starting job. And it may be that way for a while.

Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam said Monday the Browns have told Johnny Football to start acting like a backup quarterback.

Speaking at a Pro Football Hall of Fame luncheon, Haslam said the Browns were excited to select Manziel, Texas A&M’s dynamic, playmaking quarterback, in the first round of the draft.

However, although Manziel has brought a buzz to Cleveland and made the Browns fashionable, Haslam quickly ended any speculation that the highly touted QB will soar past Brian Hoyer on the depth chart.

“We were very frank with him that ‘You’re the backup quarterback. This is a hardworking, blue-collar town. This isn’t Hollywood,’” Haslam said. “‘We want you to come in here, work hard and work as hard as anybody on the team.’ He’s not the starter. Brian Hoyer is our starting quarterback. Johnny is the backup.”

Haslam called Manziel “ultra-competitive” and feels the 21-year-old will come to training camp with the right attitude. He knows Manziel wants to prove he can succeed in the NFL.

“I think you’ll find a guy that’s really hardworking, a serious guy that doesn’t want to be a three-year-in-the-league flash and out who makes a lot of money on endorsements,” Haslam said speaking to a crowd of 500, most of them hardcore Browns fans. “He’s a football player.”

During his 35 minutes at the podium, Haslam recapped the club’s draft weekend, highlighted by the club taking Manziel with the No. 22 overall pick.

Haslam denied a report that the team initially sent in a draft card with Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s name on it before switching to Manziel.

On the way to his chauffeured car, Haslam told The Associated Press the report was erroneous.

“That’s crazy,” he said. “That’s nuts.”

Haslam was careful not to comment directly on the fluid situation involving Pro Bowl wide receiver Josh Gordon. ESPN reported on Friday that Gordon is facing a one-year ban from the league for failing another drug test. Gordon was suspended two games last season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy but still led the NFL in yards receiving.

Haslam said Gordon has made strides, and the Browns have his support.

“Josh is 22 years old, OK?” he said, “and all of us need to think back to when we were 22 or think back to when our kids were 22, OK? Josh is learning and growing and improving as a person. He’s learning how to work hard. He’s learning how to be a professional. Josh is a smart young man.

“All of us have made mistakes when we were that age. We’re counting on Josh being a good football player for the Browns for a long time to come. We have all spent a lot of time talking to Josh and I’m not going to comment on the situation, but I’ll say this, I’ve been very pleased with his professional growth over the last year and the way he handles himself.”

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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