CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns are already blocking for Johnny Manziel.
The team is not giving into any pressure and will stick with its plan to ban national media from the popular rookie quarterback’s first appearance on the field this weekend.
Cleveland’s rookie minicamp under first-year coach Mike Pettine will only be open — for one day — to local reporters and photographers. The Browns turned down several requests from national outlets, some of which were not pleased with being denied.
“We wanted to give those in the media who cover us on a daily basis access to the members of the draft class they’ve yet to meet, and also to circle back with our first two picks,” Browns spokesman Zak Gilbert said.
The Browns selected Manziel, Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy-winning star, with the No. 22 pick in last week’s draft. The team selected Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert with the No. 8 overall pick after trading down from No. 4 to ninth, then moving back up one spot.
While the local media will be allowed inside to see Saturday’s practice, only the first 15 minutes of the workout will be open for viewing. During that window, players usually stretch and do individual drills. The practice on Sunday will be closed.
Originally, the first practice was going to be open for its entirety and Sunday’s session for 15 minutes.
But that was before the Browns took Manziel, who has brought welcomed attention to a proud franchise that has suffered through mostly losing and coaching changes since its expansion return 15 years ago.
Manziel has given the Browns a boost, but the club is hoping to keep his celebrity in check.
Pettine has experience in this area. He was on New York’s coaching staff when quarterback Tim Tebow joined the Jets. Pettine has seen the effects of “Tebowmania” and he doesn’t want Manziel to be a distraction.
Earlier this week, owner Jimmy Haslam said the Browns have already informed Manziel he won’t be given a thing.
“Mike Pettine said it very well: ‘Johnny, right now you’re our backup quarterback and you need to act like such,’” Haslam said during a speech in Canton. “We were very frank with him that that’s the expectation. ‘You’re the backup quarterback. This is a hard-working, blue-collar town. This isn’t Hollywood. We want you to come in here, work hard and work as hard as anybody on the team.’
“He’s not the starter. Brian Hoyer is our starting quarterback. Johnny is the backup.”
But for now, he’s being protected like a star.