Johnny Manziel did not get much of a second chance to make a first impression.
Manziel did not return to Sunday’s 17-13 loss at Carolina after departing late in the second quarter with a hamstring injury, further clouding the team’s plans to evaluate him as another season goes up in flames down the stretch.
The Browns have now lost their last 4 overall, 5 of their last 6 since starting the year 6-3 and 11 straight in the month of December.
Manziel left the game when Colin Jones and Luke Kuechly combined to hit him following a run to his left near the sideline with 1:48 left in the first half.
But that apparently wasn’t when he initially got hurt.
Manziel told reporters in Charlotte after the game that his hamstring originally tightened up on him when he slipped while throwing a third-and-3 slant to Josh Gordon earlier in the second quarter, but it got worse following the hit by Jones and Kuechly.
Gordon finished the game with 4 catches for 45 yards.
Trainers looked at Manziel before walking him to the locker room shortly after he left the field. Manziel returned to the sideline for the second half fully dressed but did not see the playing field again.
Brian Hoyer completed 7 of 13 passes for 134 yards, a touchdown and interception in relief of Manziel. The Browns briefly took a 13-10 lead on Carolina when Hoyer found Jordan Cameron for an 81-yard touchdown with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Cameron’s TD was the longest offensive play of the season for the Browns and their first offensive score in 10 quarters.
Prior to the injury, Manziel had completed 3 of 8 passes for 32 yards and ran twice more for 3 yards in 3-plus offensive series.
The lone highlight in the second start from the rookie came as part of a 10-play drive when he zipped a 28-yard completion to Andrew Hawkins on a third-and-8. Aided by a helmet to helmet hit on Hawkins later in the drive, Garrett Hartley was able to hit his first field goal as a Brown – 43 yards – that tied the game at 3 with 13:25 left in the second quarter.
Manziel also had 2 more 3-and-outs bringing the total to 10 series of 3 or fewer plays ran in 13 opportunities the last 2 weeks.
Last week against Cincinnati Manziel led the Browns past midfield just once, netted 5 first downs – minus 2 penalties – and totaled 80 yards through the air on 10 of 18 passing. He was sacked 3 times and ran 5 times for just 13 yards.
The Browns run defense was awful again Sunday in the loss.
Carolina ran for 209 yards – 124 came in the first half – and netted over 400 yards of total offense. It marked the second straight week Cleveland’s defense was gashed for 200-plus on the ground.
Cam Newton’s 2-yard TD run with less than 2 minutes to play in the half gave Carolina a 10-3 advantage at intermission. Newton threw a 9-yard touchdown to Jonathan Stewart, who also ran for 122 yards. Newton became the fifth back to hit the century mark out of the backfield against the Browns this season.
Newton added 65 and a score on 10 runs in the win.
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