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Johnny Manziel and Justin Gilbert busy learning the NFL

Posted May 17, 2014

Minicamp a time for implementing the basics

There was a small but significant moment Saturday during Johnny Manziel’s second day of minicamp.

As he watched fellow rookie quarterback Connor Shaw fire a fade route toward the sidelines, Manziel went through the motions himself. Backpedaling, tilting his head to look off receivers, following through.

There are no questions about Manziel’s flair for the unbelievable on the football field. It’s the little fine tuning and tweaking of his technique which will be necessary at the NFL level. Eventually, when he’s ready, Manziel will do everything in his power to turn the Browns into winners.

“People want to win here,” Manziel said in press conference on Saturday. “You get a sense of that. They are tired of losing. They are tired of not having success.”

On the other side of the football, Justin Gilbert is also earning his keep. The microscope has been minimized on the Browns’ first selection in the 2014 draft in the media, prompting Gilbert to joke, “It don’t feel like it,” when asked about being the Browns first pick.

Like Manziel, technique will come to the forefront for Gilbert. Joe Haden told ClevelandBrowns.com one of the biggest reasons he was excited the Browns took Gilbert was so that he could have someone to mentor.

That process has already begun. Gilbert didn’t go into specifics but the pair have engaged in conversations about coverages and about how Gilbert will have a big responsibility in man coverage.

“Hard work beats talent any day,” Gilbert said when describing who he is as a football player.

The Browns knew who they were getting when they drafted a hard worker in Manziel. He was a dynamic touchdown machine at Texas A&M with a playing style so thrilling, he built a mammoth national fan base on social media.

But prolific college football players enter the NFL every year. Many of them flame out before you can blink an eye. Some refuse to adapt. Some just don’t have styles that translate to the pros. Coach Mike Pettine can feel the enthusiasm himself in the city of Cleveland, but the Browns have a plan for their first-round pick at quarterback.

“We don’t want to rush it,” said Pettine. “This is a classic ‘cart before the horse’ situation. We want it to be that way over time so I don’t think it’s a situation where we’re quelling [the excitement], but I just think that we want to temper it.

 “If he wants to develop and be ‘Jonny Football’ in the NFL, he’s got to earn in,” said Pettine about Manziel putting in the work. “I think he knows that that is as the end of the tunnel for him, but he still has to travel through that tunnel.”

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