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Troy Aikman ‘surprised’ Cowboys passed on Johnny Manziel; Ben Watson unimpressed with Panthers

Posted Jul 17, 2014

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

Troy Aikman, Haloti Ngata, Benjamin Watson

There was plenty of rumbling before the NFL Draft about the Dallas Cowboys having an interest in selecting Johnny Manziel.

Manziel, of course, wound up joining the Cleveland Browns. 

But at least one close Cowboys observer expected them to keep the former Texas A&M quarterback in his home state.

“I thought there was a real good chance if he fell to the Cowboys’ pick that (Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones) would take him,” former Cowboys quarterback and current Fox Sports NFL analyst Troy Aikman was quoted as saying in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I understand why they didn’t. It would have certainly added a lot of excitement around here, but I don’t think it would have been best for the club, certainly not in the short term. There’s a lot of other needs, as we saw last year, that this team has, so it was probably the right thing not taking him, but I was a little surprised.”

“I think that had to have been a difficult decision for Jerry.”

As for Manziel, Aikman can envision him having success in the NFL, provided he stays focused on his job.

“I think when the time comes for him to get serious about football and put in the time, I’m confident he’ll do that,” Aikman said. “He’s going to have to do that if he’s going to be successful. There’s no shortcuts in this league to becoming a great player. Cleveland has invested a lot in him and expects a lot from him, and I’m sure he recognizes that.

“He likes to have a good time, I know that, but if he can stay focused on football and commit himself, which is what it’s going to require, I think he has a chance to be really good.”

HALOTI NGATA DOES SOME INTENSE WEIGHT TRAINING

If you want to see what it takes to remain a big, powerful NFL nose tackle, check out a video of the Baltimore Ravens’ Haloti Ngata working out with a 150-pound dumbbell, which the Baltimore Sun discovered.

The video – which Ngata’s brother, Vili, posted on Facebook – begins with Haloti holding the dumbbell over his head with one arm while standing. Then, he eases his way to the ground and while balancing the dumbbell over his head, and then keeps the dumbbell in the air with one hand while on his back.

The 6-foot-4, 340-pound nose tackle clearly is pushing himself to the max.

Looks like fun!

SAINTS’ BENJAMIN WATSON ISN’T EXPECTING MUCH FROM PANTHERS

Although the Carolina Panthers are the defending champions of the NFC South, they apparently don’t have enough going for them to worry New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson.

“I will say this about our division, one team I’m not worried about is the Carolina Panthers,” Watson said on NFL Network.

The former Brown cited history in making the case that the Panthers would fall short of repeating as division champions, pointing out that since the NFL’s realignment in 2002, defending NFC South champions have gone 11 consecutive seasons without winning the title.

“The numbers say they won’t win it; there’s never been a repeat champ in the NFC South.” Watson said. “So we’re not worried about the Carolina Panthers. So there’s only two teams (to worry about), with Atlanta and Tampa Bay.”

JOHN ELWAY: JULIUS THOMAS NOT AT JIMMY GRAHAM’S ‘LEVEL’

As the Denver Broncos work on a new contract with tight end Julius Thomas, there has been plenty of media speculation that the deal might resemble the reported four-year, $40-million agreement (with $21 million guaranteed over the next two years) that tight end Jimmy Graham recently reached with the Saints.

Not so fast, according to Broncos general manager John Elway.

“Even though Julius had a tremendous year for us, he’s only (played) 23 games,” Elway was quoted as saying in USA Today. “We want Julius to be a Bronco for a long time and we think he has tremendous upside, but he’s not at that (Graham) level.”

Last season, Thomas caught 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns.

According to Elway, negotiations with Thomas and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas will continue through training camp, but the GM does not want them extending into the regular season. “After the second week of the preseason, we’ll want to have had something done, one way or another,” Elway said.

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