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Josh McCown learning new offense, bonding with Johnny Manziel

Josh McCown's southern drawl is the first thing you notice about the 35-year-old quarterback.

McCown grew up in Jacksonville, Texas, 27.5 miles south of the town of Tyler – where Johnny Manziel hails from. The two high schools often play each other on Friday nights, shutting down convenience stores and gas stations in both towns.

Let the Lone Star State bonding begin.

"For those of you that aren't from Texas, I don't have enough time to explain," McCown said with a smile after Tuesday's workout. "It just helps to have that bond, for sure."

The pair of Texans will be competing for the same starting spot that was similary vacant at this time last year. Now entering his 11th season, McCown understands the dynamic of a quarterback room and that everyone needs to be on the same page – together.

If Manziel requests extra attention about a certain play call from McCown, the veteran will be willing to lend a hand – or even an ear -- to listen about life outside of football. McCown openly wants to be a player teammates – not just Manziel -- seek out.

"Josh sees himself as a leader but also sees it as part of that leadership as helping the young players," coach Mike Pettine said. "He's seen a lot. He's going to be an asset to the Browns on and off the field."

As McCown learns the faces and names of fellow teammates and staff members, simultaneously the grunt work for the 2015 season has already begun. Nearly 100 new passing plays were installed during the offensive team meeting and a few grueling weight lifting sessions took place just down the hall.

"First and foremost, it's how you play as an individual, and moving forward, it's how you help the guys around you." McCown said. "As a member of a team, that's how it should go."

McCown knows the current perception of him outside the facility is the 1-10 record he had last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. To some, his 13 touchdowns and one interception two seasons ago with the Chicago Bears seem distant.

Should McCown be under center Week 1, he knows there's only one way to prove he's worthy of the job to the city of Cleveland.

"By going out and winning football games," McCown said. "I'm not into talking people into it. That's not my deal. You go out, and you play better football. That's the idea."

Pettine said the Browns are a long way from penciling in starters at any position, especially quarterback. But just like last season's well-documented quarterback battle, the Cleveland coaching staff will pit McCown, Manziel, Connor Shaw, Thad Lewis – and any additional player brought in via the draft – in an intense competition in hopes of breeding mental toughness and creating a game-like atmosphere in training camp.

"We thrive on competition," Pettine said.

McCown said he originally gave Cleveland a courtesy visit during his free agency because of his relationship with offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, who coached McCown in Oakland. He walked into the team facility not expecting to sign with the Browns.

But the enthusiastic passion from the coaching staff and last season's 7-4 start combined with a chance to start and mentor young players has McCown thinking Cleveland could be home for a while.

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