One day after Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was placed in the league's concussion protocol, the team has ruled him out for the final game of the season. Manziel reported to the team's facility Wednesday complaining of concussion-like symptoms. Head coach Mike Pettine said before the team's practice that Manziel would start Week 17 if healthy, but that would require a rapid turnaround.
Backup Austin Davis took first-team reps in Wednesday's practice and will get the start, while the team signed Pat Devlin to serve as his backup, according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. Davis started the Browns' Week 13 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, completing 25 of 38 attempts for 230 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, who started his career at quarterback, also got some practice reps under center.
Josh McCown, who was the starting quarterback to begin the season, broke his collarbone in early December and was placed on injured reserve. This marks the fourth year in a row that the Browns have turned to their No. 3 quarterback in the season finale:
If Manziel isn't cleared, this will be the 4th straight season the Browns are forced to start their 3rd-string QB Week 17.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 30, 2015
Manziel has been under scrutiny this season for off-the-field concerns, including being demoted to third string after lying to team officials about a video surfaced of him partying during the team's bye week. When Manziel was reinstated as the starter, Pettine said that he had a lot of work to do to earn back the trust of coaches and teammates. A similar video of Manziel surfaced Sunday night, and Pettine said he has not yet had the opportunity to discuss it with Manziel, but said the circumstances surrounding this video differ from the one that got Manziel demoted earlier in the season.
#Browns Pett acknowledges Manziel is "a likeable guy, but there are problems there. We'll talk in the offseason about getting it addressed.'— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) December 31, 2015
Despite the issues away from football, Manziel has developed on the field this season, completing 129 of 223 passes for 1,500 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions in six starts. Manziel started two games for the Browns in 2014, completing 18 of 35 attempts for 175 yards and two interceptions.
#Browns Pettine said Manziel has made strides on the field, but must be right off the field to have sustained success.They will work on that— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) December 31, 2015
The Browns are 2-4 this season with Manziel starting, and 1-8 in the remainder of their games. It remains to be seen whether this production and growth, especially in light of the off-field concerns, will be sufficient to secure Manziel a role in Cleveland next season.