Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets Show More
BEREA, Ohio - It doesn't take long to see that Johnny Manziel isn't ready. Just stand on the sideline at a Browns practice and you'll know.
Watch Brian Hoyer run the first-team offense with confidence and precision, hitting his receivers in stride, comfortably executing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's complicated system.
Then watch Manziel work with the second-team offense.
He underthrows what should be an easy pass on an "out" route. He has a snap sail over his head in the shotgun formation. He misses a receiver over the middle on another route.
This is pretty obvious stuff.
Even to Manziel.
"I don't think I have it figured out by any means," said the former Heisman Trophy winner, who was drafted in the first round. "I'm really learning as I go along. It's a process. It's me against the playbook right now. It's just getting reps and getting comfortable with it. That's what you have to do. Until you really get comfortable with it, people still struggle with it."
And Manziel is struggling. Which is completely normal for almost every rookie quarterback, even the one known as Johnny Football.
So forget about who's going to start Week 1 for the Browns, or when Manziel will take his first snaps. For now, it's trying to get the plays out of his mouth in the huddle without missing a certain word or number that can change the entire blocking scheme or a receiver's route.
This really is a case of Manziel vs. Playbook. And at least for now, Playbook is winning.
"Right now, it's making sure I know what I need to know out here and execute the offense and not have any mistakes," he said. "Once I go through a couple of days with no mental errors and getting to where I need to be every single time, then I'll feel a lot better.
"I'm a rookie. I don't have all that stuff figured out. I don't know all the ins and outs and every nook and cranny. If there's a little twist on the play and you go in there, forget to say it in the huddle, it changes the whole dynamic."
At the morning practice Thursday, there were no wild scrambles from the quarterback who made so many wild plays at Texas A&M. This was pure meat-and-potatoes offense, something he's going to have to get used to.
Simply lining up for the plays is diametrically opposed to what he did in Kevin Sumlin's "Air Raid" offense. In college, Manziel hardly ever was under center.
"It's a complete 180 from everything I've been used to, and it's going to take time," he said. "It's a process coming from a spread, 'Air Raid' system in college to a pro-style system that's very unfamiliar to me as far as terminology and routes and being under center a lot more."
But there's still ample time for Manziel to take over the offense, even if, as first-year coach Mike Pettine said after practice, Hoyer would be the starter if the Browns had a game this week. Pettine said Manziel soon will get some reps with the starters. So this competition is a long way from being over, and Pettine has no immediate plans to name a Week 1 starter.
"We're going to probably start to mix the reps up," he said. " . . . It might happen in the scrimmage [Saturday]. If not, then it will be at some point next week."
Off the field for Manziel, there were plenty of headline-creating incidents in the offseason, including photos of him holding a bottle of champagne while riding an inflatable swan, a video of him holding a stack of money as if it were a phone, and a photo of him rolling money tightly while in a bathroom in Las Vegas.
Pettine and other Browns officials were not too happy about the incidents, and they told him in no uncertain terms that he has to be more careful.
Pettine and first-year general manager Ray Farmer met with Manziel when he reported for training camp to send the message about the off-field antics.
"We had a very positive conversation, and he assured us it wasn't going to be an issue moving forward," Pettine said. "He said he made some mistakes and learned a lesson. Some of the things you just can't avoid. Like he went out the other night, was with some teammates and had a couple of beers at a local bar on our night off, and it was reported. That's not news, but it is with him . . . He doesn't want to put the organization in a bad light, and we spoke about that.
"But when he's in the building, it's nose-to-the-grindstone, very quiet, very humble around the veterans. He's just another face in the crowd."
Well, not just any face in the crowd. But Pettine believes Manziel's priorities are in the right place. That means football first. And after what he demonstrated on the practice field, there's a lot to learn.
"I'll play when these coaches decide that I'm ready," Manziel said. "I don't think there's any rush. I don't think they want to throw me into a situation I'm not ready for or something I can't handle."
Nope, it's not quite Johnny Football's time yet. Let him conquer the playbook, and then we'll talk.