The Cleveland Browns first preseason game is one of the most-hyped exhibitions to be played in recent memory for one reason: Johnny Manziel.
Ford Field is sold out, and 200 media credentials have been issued. Every football fan with a pulse wants to see the former Heisman Trophy winner take the field against a real-live NFL pass rush, as the Browns play the Lions in a game that’s become bigger than the Super Bowl–The Great Lakes Classic (Yes, snark is intended).
While preseason games are usually a waste of time, tonight’s contest is huge for Manziel, who’s attempting to win the starting quarterback job. He’s reportedly gained ground on Brian Hoyer, and reports state coach Mike Pettine will pick a starter based on the play of the first two preseason games.
“I think more weight will be put on those as I said before, because it’s live reps,” Pettine told the Associated Press. “The practice part will still be important, but I think it’s safe to say that.”
So what might Johnny Football have up his sleeves for tonight?
Pettine said he would play his starters more than normal for a first preseason game, according to ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi. If that’s the case, the starters will probably play into the second quarter, while the second team would eventuality take somewhere in the second quarter.
That indicates tonight is Hoyer’s night, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pettine insert Manziel with the first string, even though he said the rookie would only play with the second team. If Manziel’s truly in contention to win the starting job, Pettine has to see what the rookie has against the Lions’ best.
If Johnny only plays against the Lions’ second-unit–look out. Manziel should thrive, just as he did at Texas A&M. His lethal-weapon legs are primed to make him a star, out-rushing members of the Lions fighting for a roster spot.
While the night should be a positive one for the rookie, there is a lot of downside. If Manziel struggles against the Lions second unit, many questions will be raised about whether he can succeed at this level. Vegas hasn’t released the line yet (Yes, more snark), but he’ll surly answer 500 questions about his “Preparedness” if he stinks.
Get ready Browns fans, Johnny Football time is almost here.