BEREA— Johnny Manziel can hear very well.
While he’s made a concerted effort to block out negativity in his life and focus on football, Manziel still picks up on certain critics bashing his game with each and every opportunity.
Take ESPN analyst Merril Hoge, for instance, who recently said the Browns should cut ties with Johnny all together.
“Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Baltimore, they love the plan that Cleveland’s under. Keep going down that plan because all you do is set your organization back one more year by babysitting this guy and as your starting quarterback ,” Hoge said. “If you want to move on, cut bait, get another guy in there and go in another direction — immediately. Cut bait. Move on.”
The Browns certainly weren’t listening to Hoge, as they’ll start Manziel against the Titans in their home opener on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium, but Manziel seemed to know what Hoge said.
“I think Merrill Hodge needs to worry about his big neck ties,” Manziel said. “It’s just go out and play and quiet him with the way we go out and win on Sunday. That’s what we want to do.”
Manziel said that he feels prepared to eliminate that criticism on Sunday, thanks to a solid week of practice and three quarters of work against the Jets.
“Getting pretty much a full game last week and then having the week to prepare, week to practice, get into a little bit of a rhythm with these guys, I think it’s huge,” Manziel said. “I'm extremely comfortable. I think everyone has been in there this week feels really good about what our scheme is, what our plan is and look forward to Sunday.”
Though Manziel feels he’s prepared for this start, he also felt he was prepared for his last start at FirstEnergy.
After a 31-0 loss to the Cincinatti Bengals in which he threw for only 80 yards and two interceptions, it was obvious that the might not have been as ready as he thought.
“I definitely feel I'm in a lot better place now, so I guess if I thought I was prepared then, I think I'm even more prepared now,” Manziel said. “Obviously with the experience and those two starts and then through the offseason and last week and just where I'm at today, I definitely feel a lot better.”
While Manziel is ready for the rigors of his third NFL start, he hasn’t thought about what a solid performance or even a win could mean for the future.
Rather, as is often the cliche, he’s focused on this game and this game alone.
“I know, right now, for me, Josh is injured so I’m the next guy up. My role here is to go out and play well and try to lead us to a win,” Manziel said. “I’m not looking at anything past this game, anything past the next week. It’s really go into this game, do my best and from there on we’ll see what happens."
Follow Hayden Grove on Twitter for all of your Browns news and updates from Berea: @H_Grove.