CLEVELAND (AP) -- Johnny Manziel's on-field magic show can amaze. He
disappears, performs sleight of hand tricks with a football and pulls
off injury-defying moves while being chased by enormous men.
The dazzling rookie quarterback has quite an act, and just as he did
in college, Manziel produced some memorable stunts Thursday night.
"He pulled a rabbit out of a hat a couple times," said Browns coach Mike Pettine, "as he is known to do."
And while Johnny Football can electrify a crowd or provide more
late-night TV highlights to the sports nation, Pettine doesn't care if
Cleveland's offense is less entertaining this season.
"It can be real boring as long as we're gaining yards and scoring points," he said.
The Browns did just that in their preseason finale against the
Chicago Bears, who rested their starters. Browns starting quarterback
Brian Hoyer took Cleveland on a 13-play, 85-yard touchdown drive in the
first quarter, a confidence-building sequence for a unit that has
struggled for much of the preseason.
Hoyer's outing and -- he went 6 of 8 for 69 yards -- and the team's
overall play was just what Pettine and his staff were hoping for as the
Browns prepare for their Sept. 7 opener at Pittsburgh. Never mind that
it came against Chicago's backups, the Browns needed something to feel
good about and they got it.
"It just gave us some momentum heading into this week," Pettine said. "You feel much more comfortable now."
Hoyer looked more decisive during his one series. Other than missing
tight end Jordan Cameron on what should have been an easy touchdown --
"He was so open it almost freaked me out," Hoyer said -- the veteran QB
was sharp and composed. This was the Hoyer the Browns have been waiting
to see after three shaky games.
"I thought Brian was sharp." Pettine said. "I thought he made good decisions and he threw the ball well."
Manziel, meanwhile, was a mixture of brilliance and blunder while playing against the Bears' reserves.
He completed just 6 of 17 passes and a few of them were rotating
sideways, not spiraling. Manziel did most of his damage on the ground,
running for 55 yards and keeping a play alive by darting in and out of
the picket before completing a 27-yard pass to Nate Burleson.
Pettine said after looking at the tape, he would like to see Manziel
be more certain in his decision-making. It's OK to improvise, but only
out of necessity.
"You want him to be able to make those plays, but I just think he
needs to learn to pick and choose those times, just be more prudent with
those decisions," Pettine said. "If a guy is open, and it's there, take
it. And if the play does break down in those circumstances, go ahead
and make a play with his feet as he showed he could do last night. But
it's just maybe changing the percentage of times that that happens and I
think that just comes with playing."
Manziel brings an undeniable energy onto the field. The crowd roars
and Cleveland's offensive players seem to respond to the buzz.
Pettine, though, said there's no different in what the two quarterbacks provide, it just comes in different packages.
"They both have unique skill sets and certainly when a play gets
extended by Manziel, that tends to get the crowd on its feet, but there
are different ways to move the football and be efficient," he said. "To
me, our offense doesn't have to be exciting."
The Browns have to get their roster to the NFL-mandated, 53-player
limit by 4 p.m. Saturday. Pettine said his staff and general manager Ray
Farmer have difficult choices and he offered few clues about the club's
"We have some tough decisions to make, but that's a good thing," he
said. "That means your potentially letting go of some good players. I'd
rather have it be that way than be a situation where you're putting a
guy on your 53 who you don't think is deserving of it. To me, ultimately
it's his (Farmer's) say, but this is very much a collaboration."
NOTES: One of the decisions will be whether to carry three
quarterbacks. Veteran Rex Grossman made some nice throws against the
Bears and his experience in coordinator Kyle Shanahan's offense is a
plus. ... Pettine doesn't think rookie CB Justin Gilbert has lost any
confidence despite inconsistencies in the past two games. ... With Josh
Gordon suspended for the season, the Browns are thin at wide receiver
and there's always the possibility they could make a trade for help.
Pettine wouldn't rule out a deal. "I would think any of those options
are available to us at this point. I wouldn't preclude any of it."