AP Sports Writer
BEREA — Johnny Manziel’s benching may not mean his days with the Browns are dwindling.
“I certainly hope not,” coach Mike Pettine said in explaining his decision to demote Manziel because of the quarterback’s off-field behavior.
Manziel was dumped as Cleveland’s starter and dropped to third string on Tuesday by Pettine, who was angry after a video emerged of the second-year QB partying last week in Texas while the Browns were off. Before Manziel left town, Pettine said he made it clear to Manziel that he needed to act in a responsible manner, one befitting a starting NFL quarterback.
When that didn’t happen, Pettine said he had no choice but to drop Manziel behind starter Josh McCown and Austin Davis on Cleveland’s depth chart. Manziel could be inactive Monday night when the Browns host the Baltimore Ravens, depriving him of a chance to show his progress on one of pro football’s biggest stages.
“We told him yesterday, this isn’t a dead end. This is a hurdle,” Pettine said. “This is an obstacle, so part of success in athletics is dealing with adversity and this will be an example of it.”
Pettine said the Browns did not consider cutting Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and 2014 first-round draft pick who has made more headlines with his off-field antics than anything he’s done between the lines.
During the portion of Wednesday’s practice open to the media, Manziel stood with his hands tucked in his hooded sweatshirt and watched as McCown and Davis took all the snaps. The benching was a difficult blow to the 22-year-old, but Pettine said it was essential if he’s going to develop into a full-time starter.
Pettine indicated he felt somewhat betrayed by Manziel.
“It’s the trust, the accountability part of it,” Pettine said. “It was right on the heels of discussions that not just I had with him but (quarterbacks coach) Kevin O’Connell and (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) Flip and just that that trust was violated. I can’t emphasize the importance of the trust and the accountability piece. This is where we had an obvious shortcoming.”
The demotion will make it difficult for the Browns to assess Manziel’s skills and future, but Pettine said the move was necessary and “best for Johnny.”
“We do have a much better sense than we did a year ago,” Pettine said. “I think from a pure quarterbacking play standpoint the arrow is up. But I didn’t want that to be a deciding factor in this, ‘Well, let’s not do anything because we need to see.’ This was too important. And it was something that, it’s regrettable but, we feel we had to do.”
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