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Training Camp

Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel deliver on 'fun night' for Browns QBs

Josh McCown's instincts drove him to the negatives first as he assessed his performance after Friday's Orange and Brown scrimmage.

The veteran quarterback focused more on his second and final possession, which ended with a field goal, than his first, which saw the Browns drive down the field, convert a long third down and crack the end zone on a McCown dart to Brian Hartline. That's the standard McCown strives to hold not just for himself, but the other three quarterbacks he works with every day.

The best part about Friday for him and Cleveland's other signal-callers? There were far more good plays to relive than bad plays to scrutinize after a pass-heavy scrimmage that included plenty of scoring.

"Anytime you're going out for the first time in front of a crowd and your first time in a new offense, to move the ball down the field the way we did and get scores, convert on third down, the big play on the very first play, those are good things," McCown said. "Those are things we can grab a hold of and build on and need to get better. We'll look at the tape and make our improvements but I was just excited to see how everybody played across the board, the other quarterbacks as well.

"It was a fun night for us."

The fun started on McCown's first pass, a simple out pattern to Travis Benjamin that moved the sticks. Faced with a third-and-long just a couple of plays later, McCown delivered a strike to tight end Gary Barnidge, who caught it and ran for a 48-yard gain.

"It was exactly how we design it and Gary has a great feel for how to run that route and made a great grab, a great hands catch away from his body and turned up and made more out of it, too," McCown said. "That's the thing about Gary. He's sneaky fast."

So is McCown, who peeled out of the pocket on the very next play to avoid a charging Paul Kruger. McCown identified Hartline in the back of the end zone and led him with a throw back to the front for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

McCown's second and final series, a red-zone drill, didn't move much beyond the original line of scrimmage and the offense settled for a long Travis Coons field goal.

"I think our guys just feel so positive about not just Josh," Browns coach Mike Pettine said, "but the quarterback room."

The type of performance Johnny Manziel delivered in front of nearly 50,000 fans served as the latest reason why the Browns feel better about their depth at quarterback.

Manziel's first drive never got off the ground and ended when rookies Nate Orchard and Danny Shelton combined on a third-down sack. But the rest of the night was much smoother, particularly his final drive, which ended with a nifty, back-shoulder touchdown throw to Josh Lenz. Manziel, who worked exclusively with the second-team offense, also threw a touchdown pass during a red-zone drill to tight end E.J. Bibbs.

There was hard to find anyone more thrilled with Manziel's latest impressive performance than McCown.

"I was proud of him," McCown said. "He started off OK and then kind of had a lull and that's the thing about playing this position. You can't create false adversity. It has to happen. When you go through some things like tonight where you kind of have a couple of drives that don't go your way and you pull yourself out of it, that's the main thing. The (touchdown throw to Lenz) was terrific but just the way he battled through it was awesome. That's the mark of making progress and a quarterback maturing."

McCown had a hard time wiping the smile off his face as he reflected on his first game-like action with the Browns. His children played on the Ohio Stadium turf nearby while he reflected not just on Friday's performance, but the impact he's already made with his new team.

Just how rejuvenated does the 36-year-old veteran feel as the leader of the Browns' offense?

"I don't know if rejuvenated is the right word, but there's just great passion and energy with the city and the fans," McCown said. "To get to walk into that locker room is such a joy. We've just got great guys. To work with these guys is so much fun; bunch of young guys that are all wired the right way. They want to win and they come to work every day with that mindset. It's hard not to have a lot of energy when you come to work with these guys.

"I'm just thankful to have an opportunity to be a part of it and be in a locker room with these guys. You certainly can feed off that energy."

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