BEREA, Ohio — On the eve of his first NFL training camp, Johnny Manziel seems to have realized that his offseason escapades didn't make him look like a professional quarterback, and may have even embarrassed his bosses with the Cleveland Browns.
"I made some rookie mistakes," Manziel said Friday. "There were some things I wish I could have gone back and done a little differently, but I'm continuing to move forward and try and represent this organization and this team in a positive manner and a positive light."
The Browns will hold their first practice of the preseason Saturday morning, but Manziel has been back here in Berea for several days, having reported with his fellow rookies and other quarterbacks earlier this week. In that time he met with head coach Mike Pettine and general manager Ray Farmer to talk about his wild offseason.
His exploits, from frequent visits to nightclubs in Las Vegas, Hollywood and Texas to parties with celebrities like Drake and Justin Bieber, were well-documented by the paparazzi and on social media. Among the incidents he discussed with his bosses was the photograph that surfaced earlier this month that appeared to show Manziel rolling a $20 bill in a nightclub bathroom.
A report Friday from Cleveland.com cited anonymous sources saying that the Browns were "alarmed"by that picture in particular. Pettine declined to address that story, or that specific photograph. But Manziel was adamant on Friday that he is, and always has been, in good standing with the men that drafted him with the No. 22 pick in May.
"I talked about it with coach Pettine, I talked about it with Ray Farmer, the people I need to talk about it with moving forward. They're good with everything," Manziel said. "I've told them everything I need to, and everything's been good."
While admitting mistakes, Manziel didn't apologize for his antics. In fact, he defended his right to party. He repeated a statement that he made the day after the Browns drafted him in May, that "I'm 21 years old," and said he doesn't see anything wrong with having an active social life during his time away when the NFL is on hiatus.
"It was the offseason, it was free time for us, and if I want to go out and hang out with my friends or go to nightclubs and do things like that, I think that's within my rights to do that," Manziel said.
Pettine on Friday had little interest in rehashing Manziel's offseason, and declined multiple questions about Manziel's off-field incidents. Instead, he said believes Manziel will be focused solely on football now that training camp is underway.
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Pettine said Manziel has already showed his commitment by returning to Ohio with an improved grasp on the Browns' playbook and an offense, run by coordinator Kyle Shanahan, that significantly more complicated than the one Manziel operated so well in college.
"A lot of things that weren't asked of me at [Texas] A&M. Moving forward I have to adapt to that, I have to get better and learn the game of football more and more," Manziel said. "I'm not sitting up here saying I know everything or am even close to perfecting this thing, so I'm still a young guy, a young player and there is a lot for me to do moving forward."
Yet Manziel's improved knowledge of the offense doesn't mean an immediate change to the depth chart.
Brian Hoyer will take all of the first-team repetitions in the first several practices, with Manziel working with the backups, Pettine said.
"We'll see how it goes after that," Pettine said.
Pettine would like to have settled on either Hoyer or Manziel as the team's starter before the third preseason game. That's not unique to quarterbacks, Pettine said, but his plan for any open job so that the team can begin preparing for the regular season.
"The pressure, you can thrive off of that. The thing that motivates me the most is to be the best quarterback for this team, and being a team player you want the best people out there. Whether that's me or Johnny, that will be determined through these next couple weeks. I want the best quarterback to play, and that's all you can ask for is an opportunity to be that guy," Hoyer said. "I am confident that I am that guy, but in the same sense, I know that if it comes down the fact that Johnny does beat me out, I will have given everything I can and he will have earned it. For me, all you want is an opportunity and the chance to earn the job, and that's what I've been given."
It's a gracious take from Hoyer, but one that comes from having been a backup for Tom Brady, and having been cut by the Patriots, Steelers and Cardinals before finally getting a chance to be a starter last season with his hometown Browns.
Hoyer, who replaced Brandon Weeden, won the three games he started before suffering a torn ACL in mid-October. He was the only quarterback the Browns' new coaching and front office regime chose to keep when they arrived earlier this year, and he has approached everything about this offseason with the mindset of an incumbent starter.
Now Hoyer has been cleared by team doctors to participate fully in training camp, and the competition can truly begin.
"Of there is a competition, but for the most part, I think I am competing against myself to be the best player that I can," Hoyer said. "To have just a taste of it last year and then to have it ripped away, you know, if makes you realize how much you love the game and to have it taken away from you like that, especially when you've waited such a long time. It drove me for the last nine months and will continue to drive me."
Of course, the quarterback competition is the most interesting on the Browns' roster, one more complex than just which player performs the best in practice. When it comes to Manziel, it's always more than just football.
The Browns are expecting record crowds when practices begin Saturday morning. The team required fans to register for free training camp tickets online, and have reached the max of 4,000 fans for each of the first six sessions.
Hoyer might have grown up just a few miles away in North Olmstead, but the madness won't be for him.
Browns fans who made Manziel's jersey the hottest seller in the NFL will finally get their first glimpse of him on the field. Now it's Manziel's goal to make them see a future NFL star, and not the image of a perpetual frat boy they saw online all summer.
"I think there are definitely things I can do moving forward to better act like a professional," Manziel said. "I'm still learning how to do that, still getting used to that role, still getting used to this league, still getting used to being a pro football player. I'm not in college anymore and there are things I need to do better, and that's part of being a professional, and hopefully over time, going through this season and as time goes on, I'll get better at doing that."