NFL notebook: Browns name Manziel starter for rest of season
There was no formal presentation or fanfare. No torch passing ceremony.
Browns coach Mike Pettine simply pulled Johnny Manziel aside and told him he would be Cleveland’s starting quarterback for the remainder of this season.
No longer just a celebrated bad-boy backup, Manziel joined an elite class.
The trick will be staying there.
Manziel’s budding pro career, dotted mostly by missteps on and off the field to this point —the NFL said Tuesday he will not be disciplined for a domestic case — seems to be finally headed in the right direction for him. Now, the Browns will find out if he can be their franchise QB.
“I wanted the chance to be the guy and that was always my goal,” said Manziel, who was watching film before Pettine told him the news. “I’m excited, I think as I should be. This is a great opportunity with a great group of guys that are going to go out and fight with me every week.”
Pettine made the change before the team’s first bye-week practice, two days after Manziel passed for a career-high 372 yards in a 30-9 loss to the Steelers. He also flashed a few of those Johnny Football moments that won him the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M.
After fumbling on his first play, Manziel regrouped and completed 33 of 45 passes with one touchdown. He didn’t lead the Browns (2-8) to victory, but Manziel showed he’s learning from his mistakes, growing more comfortable in the pocket and ready to take his biggest step yet.
“The performance against Pittsburgh validated for us the progress he’s made and the improvement he’s shown and that he deserves this opportunity,” Pettine said. “We understand where our season is at this point and this is a kid we’ve invested a lot in. This will give us an opportunity to see how far he’s come and what he’s capable of.”
Raiders LB Smith suspended a year
Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended by the NFL for one calendar year because of violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy.
The penalty is effective immediately and Smith will be eligible to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before the end of the suspension.
Smith, 26, was released by the 49ers in August after several run-ins with the law and then landed across the bay with the Raiders. Smith went through the locker room and told teammates goodbye Tuesday before the suspension was officially announced.
Smith released a statement Tuesday night thanking the Raiders their fans and owner Mark Davis for their support.
“I am taking this time to work on myself and become the man I need to be, my team and organization needs me to be, and I know I can be,” he said. “I had lost my love for the game and it led me to some poor choices, but I am thankful to the Raider organization for believing in me this season and will continue to better myself and grow from my experiences. I look forward to rejoining the team next year.”
Smith will be a free agent after the season but the Raiders said they would like to bring him back when he is eligible to play again.
“Aldon has been a positive addition to the Raiders,” the team said in a statement. “He remains prominently in our long term plans and we will continue to support this member of our family as he gets the help that he needs.”
Cowboys waive QB Weeden
The Cowboys waived quarterback Brandon Weeden with the possibility of Tony Romo’s return this weekend after missing seven games with a broken collarbone.
Weeden went 0-3 filling in for Romo and Matt Cassel was 0-4. It’s the longest slide by Dallas since the team lost seven straight while going 1-15 under Jimmy Johnson in 1989.
Romo is eligible to play again for Dallas (2-7), but it is not yet known if he will play Sunday at Miami (4-5). Coach Jason Garrett said Monday that the 35-year-old quarterback who’s had broken ribs, two broken collarbones and three back injuries will practice this week.
If Romo “practices well,” Garrett says, he will play against the Dolphins.
Pats WR Edelman out 6-8 weeks
Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is projected to be out six to eight weeks after undergoing foot surgery.
Edelman had a screw placed into his broken foot after the injury occurred during the unbeaten Patriots’ comeback win over the Giants on Sunday.
The six- to eight-week window would likely keep Edelman, who has a team-leading 61 catches, from returning during the regular season, but he could be available for the postseason. If the Patriots receive a bye, their first playoff game would come in mid-January.
Ex-Raven acquitted on felony animal cruelty charges
Former Ravens defensive tackle Terrence Cody was acquitted of the two most serious animal cruelty charges against him but found guilty of multiple misdemeanors and could receive jail time.
Baltimore County Circuit Court Judge Judith C. Ensor found him not guilty of two felony counts of aggravated animal cruelty. Cody was convicted of five other counts related to failing to neglecting his dog Taz, which died in January. Prosecutors said the Canary mastiff had starved to death.
Ensor also found Cody guilty of illegally possessing and neglecting an alligator.
Defense attorney Joe Murtha argued during trial his client had been neglectful, but hadn’t intentionally tortured or killed Taz.
Cody, a free agent, faces more than a year of jail plus fines. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 5.
Giants sign WR Nicks to rejoin team
Hakeem Nicks is back with the Giants.
The team announced its first-round draft pick in 2009 was signed to replace fellow wide receiver Victor Cruz on the roster.
Cruz, who did not play this season, was placed on injured reserve because he needs surgery on his left calf.
Nicks played last season with the Indianapolis Colts. He had 38 catches for 405 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season, and six receptions for 98 yards and a score in the playoffs.
Rams ink ex-Char Valley OL Kush
The Rams signed center Eric Kush (Chartiers Valley/Cal Pa.) to help address their offensive line struggles after Sunday’s 37-13 loss to the Bears.
Kush, a 6-foot-4, 313-pound third-year pro, was waived by the Texans on Monday.
Around the league
Former Steelers running back/kick returner Dri Archer worked out for the Jets, according to multiple reports. … The Titans added to the depth on their receiving corps by activating Tre McBride from their practice squad and adding Andrew Turzilli from the 49ers’ practice squad. … Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (foot) missed practice. … The Ravens placed top draft pick Breshad Perriman on injured reserve after a wasted season in which the wide receiver didn’t play a down.