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Drew Brees looks forward to watching Johnny Manziel play as much ‘as anybody’

Posted May 21, 2014

ClevelandBrowns.com takes you around the NFL with the Daily Kickoff.

Drew Brees, Roger Goodell, Mike Evans

Among the many favorable NFL comparisons that have been made with Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel is the one between him and New Orleans Saints veteran QB Drew Brees.

They are listed at the same height, 6-foot, and weight, 210 pounds. Both also entered the league as the second quarterback selected in their respective draft classes.

Of course, Brees has a Super Bowl ring and other high-end achievements in a brilliant professional career while Manziel, after winning the Heisman Trophy and otherwise excelling at Texas A&M, brings the prospect of having similar – if not better – success in the NFL.

But during an appearance on NFL Network’s “Total Access,” Brees mentioned that he has taken a special interest in Manziel.

“It’s kind of hard for a player in that situation, because you’re coming off that success from college and all of a sudden you’re thrown into the NFL spotlight,” Brees said. “He’s in a situation where obviously he’s going to have a strong chance to start; I’m not sure of the quarterback battle that’s going to take place there, but I know he’s got some weapons around him. There’s no doubt the guy can win football games and he can make plays and all those things. I’m as much looking forward to watching him play as anybody.”

Brees didn’t see the field until late in the 2001 season, his rookie year with the San Diego Chargers (who chose him early in the second round from Purdue), and didn’t become a starter until the beginning of his second season. He doesn’t think it would be the worst idea if Manziel were to begin his rookie season as a backup.

“I definitely think there are benefits to being able to sit,” Brees said. “You’re always preparing yourself as a starter during that time because you never know when you might be thrown in. But it does give you an opportunity to gain a lot of perspective, to really learn, to watch the game from the sideline. I just think there are a lot of benefits to it.

“We’ve certainly seen guys that get thrown into the fire and not quite ready, and it takes mentally tough person to kind of work through those struggles because you’re going to have struggles. Everybody does at some point and as a really young player, especially one with a lot of hype, at times that can set you back.

“But (Manziel) seems like an ultra-confident person, one who is kind of ready for that type of spotlight, that type of attention. It’s kind of been that way for the last two years with him, so not anything that he’s not used to. The big thing is if you have your struggles like every young player does, how are you able to handle that?”

ROGER GOODELL: EXPANDED PLAYOFFS WILL HAPPEN IN 2015

Look for the NFL to expand from 12 to 14 teams in the playoffs that follow the 2015 season.

That’s the word from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who said team owners are prepared to vote accordingly at a future date.

“I do believe it will be approved for 2015,” Goodell told reporters at the end of a league meeting in Atlanta. “I think we want to see one more year of, ‘Will it impact the regular season in a positive way, from a competitive standpoint? Will it create more excitement, more races toward the end, of who’s going to qualify for the playoffs?’ And we also want to absorb the additional inventory into the marketplace, from an advertising standpoint.”

Why didn’t the NFL expand the playoffs for the 2014 postseason? According to Goodell, the main reason had to do with the league’s desire to place the brunt of its focus on making its Thursday night package of games the highest quality possible.

Despite suggestions to the contrary from NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, Goodell pointed out that players would benefit from an expanded playoff field because it would generate more revenue and increase the salary cap.

“I’ve had numerous conversations with DeMaurice,” Goodell said. “I think there’s a lot of benefits to the players. That’s something they’ll have to evaluate, but they’re our partners and I’ve said on many occasions before that we’re going to continue to have dialogue with all of our partners.”

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS PLAN TO ALLOW BLAKE BORTLES TO WATCH, LEARN

When the Jacksonville Jaguars made Blake Bortles the third overall pick of the draft, it was reasonable to think that there was a good chance he would be an immediate starter.

Not so, according to Jaguars coach Gus Bradley. He told NFL Network’s “Total Access” the organization “felt comfortable” with Chad Henne returning as the starting quarterback for another season.

“And I think it gave us flexibility,” Bradley said. “Then, when Blake was there available for us, we really wanted to capture that opportunity.  We do feel good about where Blake’s at, but we feel like this time that he has under Chad – a year to develop – will be really good in the end result.”

MIKE EVANS TAKES PRIDE IN BEING A STRONG BLOCKER

Catching passes isn’t all that Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie receiver Mike Evans sees himself doing to make a big impact in the NFL.

Evans also wants to make a big impact without the ball in his hands.

“In high school I played for a running team, so I had to make sure I knew how to block,” Evans told NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk. “And then you know I got to college and (Texas A&M) coach (Kevin) Sumlin and (receivers coach) David Beaty said, ‘If you don’t block, you don’t play.’ That’s what their motto was, so you know I had to block and I just like helping my teammates out as much as possible.”

When asked if he’d prefer leveling a defensive back to help allow a teammate to score or catching a touchdown pass, Evans said the choice was easy.

“Let me level a guy,” Evans said. “If it’s clean. If it’s clean, no flag. Yeah, definitely.”

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