We know what Johnny Manziel is like off the field, because the pictures are constantly on TMZ, but what does Manziel the football player look like so far?
We’re hearing nothing but gushing about Manziel from the Browns coaching staff, which is what you’d expect. Ask Manziel’s teammates however and you will get a little different perspective.
Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman asked some of Manziel’s teammates to give their assessment of the first-round pick on the practice field and the comments weren’t entirely complimentary. One unnamed Browns player is looking for the dazzling Manziel talent and just isn’t seeing it:
The more-surprising thing that players and others in the organization have noticed, is that Manziel hasn’t displayed the dazzling abilities that he did in college. They don’t see extraordinary quickness or arm strength that amazes.
“I haven’t seen anything that makes me go, ‘Wow,’ ” one player said.
Wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, 28, while praising Manziel’s competitiveness and swagger, also said: “I don’t care what the job is, you can tell the difference between a 28-year-old and a 21-year-old.”
I checked with players early in camp and then weeks later, and the message was the same. Manziel’s skill level hasn’t stood out.
Just so I won’t get accused of anti-Manziel bias, I’ll point out that other quotes in Freeman’s piece praise Manziel for his study habits and his demeanor in the meeting room. Browns players told Freeman they haven’t seen the “crazy” Manziel at camp and some even characterize him as laid-back.
It’s not Manziel’s personality that’s the issue, it’s his physical ability. According to at least a few Browns players, Manziel has looked like a mere mortal, and not the football savior some have painted him to be.
But remember, it’s only practice. Some guys don’t show it in practice but turn on the bright lights and they become transformed. We’ll see what Manziel has when the games are for real.