BEREA — Veteran linebacker Quentin Groves thinks Cleveland’s locker room is equipped to handle the circus that would follow Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel to town if he’s drafted by the Browns next week.
“I think we’re a mature enough team to handle it,” Groves said Wednesday after minicamp practice. “We’ve had some individual success here and people have handled it well.”
Groves was a special teams captain last season, his first with the team. He was asked if the hype surrounding Manziel would be good for the Browns.
“If you want to sell tickets, it would be good for that,” he said. “If you’re trying to sell jerseys, it’d be good for that. The business side.
“If you’re trying to be a football (team), I’m not sure. I can’t comment on that.”
Groves, who said he’s recovered from ankle surgery that put him on injured reserve last season, is intrigued by Manziel. He called Terry Price, his former coach at Auburn who’s with the Aggies, and asked if Manziel is a football guy.
“He said, ‘Honestly, he’s the most competitive guy you’ll ever meet,’” Groves said. “I know you have the flashy lifestyle, Drake and all that stuff, and at the end of the day the guy wins ballgames. He makes plays, he extends drives and wins ballgames.”
NFL teams seem divided on whether Manziel (5-foot-11¾, 207 pounds) will be a success at the professional level. His size, penchant for scrambling and off-field behavior have raised questions.
Groves believes Manziel’s game translates.
“You look at what the game is about now, it’s about spreading ’em out, adding other dimensions to the game,” Groves said. “So if he can add a dimension that he can run, you give defensive coordinators that much more to prepare for.
“I think he’s faster than (Washington’s Robert Griffin III). RG just has a longer stride, but can’t really give you that shake.”
New Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby planned to take the high road, but wound up volleying a return shot at former Cardinals teammate Darnell Dockett.
Dockett told ArizonaSports.com that Dansby “chased the money” when he left Arizona in free agency to sign a four-year, $24 million contract with the Browns.
“The way he was saying it, I feel like he doesn’t believe in the guys in the locker room,” Dansby said. “That’s how I look at it. If I was to leave and you feel like you can’t make noise because I’m gone, you don’t trust the guys that are there. How can you be a leader and you said something like that? It’s disappointing, man, and you disappointed everybody in that organization, disappointed all the guys in the locker room. And I’ve got a lot of respect for all them guys in the locker room. I would have never said that about another man.”
Dansby said he had many reasons to sign with the Browns, including a talented roster and the chance to win a tough division.
“I’m a visionary. I’m a leader,” he said. “A leader is a visionary that has a poor development of fear and no concept of the odds that are against him. That’s me, that’s what I am.
“Why not go into one of the toughest divisions in the world and come out of it and get the opportunity to win a Super Bowl. You do that, you’ll make history. You’ll be a legend forever and that’s what I’m chasing.”
THE NAME GAME
New Browns strong safety Donte Whitner considered changing his name to Hitner — his nickname and Twitter handle — but decided against it.
“The majority of the people will call me Hitner regardless, the majority of fans, especially if you go on the field and make a couple of big hits, they’ll naturally call you that,” he said. “Plus, I didn’t want to go through changing my credit cards, mortgages and cars. I considered it until they told me I had to go through so many documents and sign all of these papers and change everything. For one letter change, I’d rather not.”
He said he consulted former Bengals receiver Chad Johnson, who changed his name to Ochocinco and then back to Johnson.
“That’s a lot of paperwork,” Whitner said. “Anybody that knows me knows I don’t like paperwork, so I want to keep it as minimal as possible.”
LET’S GET IT STARTED
The Browns will open the season Sept. 7 in Pittsburgh.
“It’s pretty cool,” quarterback Brian Hoyer said. “It’s a good way to start a new era, and obviously growing up here I know a lot about that rivalry, so I know how much it means to this organization, to this city and being from this city and now having the opportunity to play for this team, I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who wants the Browns to win more than me and that’s what I work for every day.”
Keavon Milton has a new position and a new number in his second season. The 6-foot-4, 293-pounder was moved to offensive line after spending last year as a tight end. He changed from No. 83 to 63.
Milton played eight games last year as a blocking tight end and special teamer. He didn’t register a statistic.
** The same five players as Tuesday worked on the side with trainers: receivers Travis Benjamin (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and Charles Johnson (ACL), linebackers Tank Carder and Brandon Magee and defensive back Brandon Hughes.
** The Browns have 10 draft picks next week, including two each in the first, third and fourth rounds.