BEREA, Ohio — Johnny Manziel is still grounded.
Benched for bad behavior, Manziel will remain on the sideline after Browns coach Mike Pettine picked quarterback Austin Davis to start Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Manziel was recently stripped of his starting job by Pettine after a video surfaced of the second-year quarterback partying in Texas during the team’s bye week. With starter Josh McCown done for the season with a broken collarbone, Pettine had to promote one of his backups and chose Davis, who came off the bench in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s loss to Baltimore.
Pettine is only committing to Davis, would went 3-5 in eight starts for St. Louis last season, as his starter for this week.
“We’ll revisit this,” Pettine said Wednesday. “These are two players that we both want to see play is the bottom line. I don’t want to declare, ‘Hey, this is what it’s going to be from here on out.’ These are two young quarterbacks that have upside and we want to see what that upside is. Austin’s the guy for this week.”
Manziel was surprisingly active for Monday’s game, serving as Cleveland’s No. 3 quarterback. He’s moved one spot up the depth chart but the backup role isn’t what he envisioned or what the Browns had in mind when they selected the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Manziel, who spent part of the offseason in a rehab facility specializing in alcohol and drug abuse treatment, is 1-2 as a starter this season. He faced Cincinnati last month and completed 15 of 33 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown in a 31-10 loss. Manziel bounced back the next week and passed for 372 yards against Pittsburgh, a performance that offered a glimpse at his potential.
But after promising Pettine and Cleveland’s coaches he would not be a distraction during his time away, Manziel was back in the nightclubs. Pettine said the 22-year-old violated the team’s trust and held Manziel accountable be demoting him to third string.
Pettine said his decision on starting Davis this week is not a reflection of his actions against Manziel.
“To me, it’s more about Austin and seeing what he can do than length of punishment,” Pettine said.
Davis is the 24th quarterback to start for the Browns since 1999, turnover that underscores the franchise’ woes.
On Monday, Davis replaced an injured McCown and threw a tying touchdown pass and moved the Browns into position for a winning field goal. But Travis Coons’ 51-yard attempt was blocked by the Ravens and returned by Will Hill 64 yards for a TD as time expired, sending the Browns (2-9) to their sixth straight loss.
Davis completed 7 of 10 passes — he went for 6 for 6 on the scoring drive — for 77 yards. The Browns signed the 26-year-old Davis in September and gave him a two-year contract shortly after he arrived.
Pettine praised Davis’ mental approach and work ethic.
“He is as prepared as any quarterback that I’ve been around,” Pettine said. “He’s relentless in that way so I think he goes into games with, in his mind, I think processing speed that he’s rehearsed it so many times in his head that I think he gets the ball out and he’s decisive.”
Pettine says Davis is also respected, mobile and has some arm strength.
“He’s young and hasn’t had a ton of starts and what he’s shown us on the practice field and the little bit that he got in the game has all been encouraging,” he said.