By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com
Notes, quotes and observations on Browns minicamp practice …
Johnny’s Weekend Update: Johnny Manziel spent last weekend in his home state of Texas.
Highlights included a pool party in Austin, at which he was photographed laying belly down on an inflatable swan and drinking from a champagne bottle; and an appearance at the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals game in San Antonio, at which he donned a Cavs retro orange and blue cap.
Coach Mike Pettine said he told Manziel that he doesn’t need to inform him every time he leaves town.
“I was involved with an event this weekend (in Doylestown, PA) and if cameras were there at certain times, it probably wouldn’t have been the most flattering – a group of coaches out, we had a good time and we were responsible,” Pettine said. “When it becomes irresponsible or it becomes something that involves breaking the law or something that we feel becomes a potential problem, we’ll step in.”
Pettine continues to say he is unconcerned with Manziel’s Fun Weekends, which previously took him to Las Vegas and Hollywood.
“I’m not concerned. I would become concerned if there was something criminal and I’d be concerned if it affected his job. I think there’s a lot of our guys, when they leave here and if they were followed around, I think you’d get some similar pictures,” Pettine said, adding, “I don’t know about an inflatable swan … but I think you’d still get some pictures.”
Hoyer update: Hoyer was still restricted under “Spartan mode,” which meant Pettine kept defenders from getting close to him in team drills and also restricted him to the pistol and shotgun formations away from center. Nevertheless, Hoyer displayed his huge advantage over Manziel at this stage of the competition – his ability to quickly scan the defense, go through his read progressions, anticipate receivers getting open and deliver the ball accurately.
Wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, who spent some time in the Kyle Shanahan offense in Washington, sized up the differences between Hoyer and Manziel this way:
“Right now, it’s just like you’d expect from a rookie and an NFL vet,” said Armstrong, who is having a good June. “I think the main thing is Johnny has to get fully into the offense to understand the timing and go from 1 to 2 to 3. Where Hoyer can go to 1, 2, 3 in a snap and it’s not a problem for him.
“Manziel may be just a little bit late, but that’s what you’d expect. He’s only been in the offense a month and a half.”
Manziel update: This is not to say the coaches are disappointed in Manziel’s performance, in the least.
“He’s getting more comfortable in the huddle, calling the plays,” Pettine said. “I think he’s got a very nice touch with the deep ball. We’ve added some of the zone read stuff that Kyle’s run with RG3 in Washington and he’s done a nice job handling that. He makes improvement every day.”
Move along, please: Pettine has shut down both quarterbacks’ availability through the remainder of minicamp – no one-on-ones, no group sessions. Nothing. It’s hard to tell whether this is to protect Hoyer (tired of hearing questions about Johnny) or Manziel (who actually thrives in front of media).
“They had been made available (sporadically over the OTAs),” Pettine said. “I don’t think the message will be that different than it was before. We just didn’t feel it needed to be done.”
See ya: The release of outside linebacker Quentin Groves, who doubled as the special teams captain last season, remains a mystery. Pettine was vague about it.
“I won’t get into specifics,” he said. “But Ray and I discuss the roster almost every day. It was a move we felt was in the best interest of the Browns. And with veteran players that have a chance to latch on somewhere else, we would prefer to do it sooner than later so they have the opportunity to move on.”
The surprise release has resulted in third-round draft pick Chris Kirksey getting some turns in the rotation at outside linebacker. Kirksey played the position at Iowa, but he was drafted to compete with Craig Robertson inside. Listed as 6-2, 235 pounds, Kirksey would be the shortest and lightest outside ‘backer by far – making the Groves release more curious.
Brownie bits: GM Ray Farmer hit another bulls-eye when he added long-time NFL personnel executive Ron Hill to his player personnel staff. Hill has 35 years experience in scouting, going back to the Dallas Cowboys under Gil Brandt in 1979. Hill most recently held a position in the NFL office and also organized the regional combines for draft-eligible players not invited to the NFL Combine. Hill has also held personnel positions with the Broncos, Jaguars and Falcons. With Atlanta, Hill helped break in Farmer as a scout in 2002. Hill was on the practice field on Tuesday in Browns' garb. The Browns have not announced Hill's addition or his position.
Quick hits: Pettine said guard Joel Bitonio’s ankle injury – which the coach would not identify as the dreaded high ankle sprain – will keep the rookie out of this minicamp but not out of the start of training camp in late July … Receiver Nate Burleson, who had the cast on his left arm removed on Monday, did participate in individual and position drills … Receiver Miles Austin once again watched from the sideline. Pettine has said Austin is not recovering from any injury … Undrafted running back Isaiah Crowell was happy to be back on the field after missing a few weeks with a tweaked hamstring … Cornerback Justin Gilbert, who has had two minor injuries in the OTA season, was back on the field … Newly signed guard Alex Parsons, whose arrival probably has something to do with Bitonio’s injury, was assigned No. 66 – Hall of Famer Gene Hickerson’s jersey number, which last was worn by Shawn Lauvao ... Still nothing new on receiver Josh Gordon. He was present and working out with the first team.
Coming up on the #HeyTony show on ESPN 850 WKNR at 6 p.m., receiver Nate Burleson goes “On the Clock.” It’s streamed live on ESPNCleveland.com and also archived later in the night.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hashtag #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi
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