Sportress of Blogitude

Mike Pettine: ‘Fair to say’ Josh McCown will start opener, not Johnny Manziel

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Even though he stressed that the Cleveland Browns were “not going to start talking competition” when it comes to the team’s quarterback position, head coach Mike Pettine relented a bit from his stance by indicating that Josh McCown, not Johnny Manziel, currently is the favorite to start the season opener against the New York Jets.

Pettine’s comments hardly should be considered surprising given the tone of the rhetoric from the Browns throughout Manziel’s tough offseason.

“Josh will more than likely be the starter going into camp,” Pettine said, citing McCown’s experience, via ESPN’s Pat McManamon. “In the foreseeable future, I don’t see that changing.”

In light of McCown being designated by Pettine as the Browns’ No. 1 quarterback, it’s likely he will get a majority of the reps with the starters. Such a plan, should it play out, will make it difficult for Manziel — or any other quarterback on the roster, for that matter — to supplant him.

Instead of Manziel obsessed with claiming the starting signal-caller role, though, Pettine simply wants the young quarterback to focus on his craft and work on improving as a player.

“To me, we want [Manziel] essentially with horse blinders on,” Pettine said. “Focused on his job, getting up every day, perfecting his craft. … That he’s much more concerned about himself than really anything else.”

After all, Manziel is coming off a disappointing rookie campaign and a tumultuous offseason that included an extended stay in an in-patient rehab facility. “Baby steps” are the name of the game for now, said Pettine.

“I just think we’re too close to him getting out [of rehab],” Pettine said. “I think it’s too early to start expanding what we’re asking [him] to do and what we’re wanting him to get involved in.”

While it may be disappointing to Manziel to know that as it stands right now, his chances of being the Browns starting quarterback at Week 1, this situation may be the best thing that has ever happened to him. Had Manziel been traded to a team that was expecting him to seriously compete for a starter’s job, it may have been a case of too much, too soon.