Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel lost "a lot of trust" among his teammates over the past year, at least according to offensive tackle Joe Thomas. In an interview with ESPN Cleveland, Thomas said that Manziel is "going to have to prove to the team that football is important."
Thomas has been with the Browns since the team made him a first-round pick in 2007. The star lineman has made it to eight Pro Bowls and been named an All-Pro seven times. As one of the longest-tenured players, his thoughts carry a lot of weight inside Cleveland's locker room and it's a smart bet his opinions are shared by others on the team. Thomas still expressed optimism in Manziel's ability to turn things around, however.
"I'm hoping when he comes back in April we see a new Johnny and everybody's blown away with his commitment," Thomas said. "And I think he's got the talent, so it's just a matter of if he commits himself to it, we can have a really good quarterback on our hands."
Thomas also said that Manziel has made progress this offseason by checking himself into rehab.
Cleveland brought in veteran Josh McCown this offseason and at this point, McCown looks like he'll be the starter. But McCown isn't a long-term solution, and if Manziel comes back and has a productive showing in Cleveland's offseason activities, he could give the team some confidence in him going forward. He might struggle to compete for playing time this season, but at 22 years old and one season removed from being a first-round pick, there's still upside.
Manziel is almost through his 10th week of rehab for a substance dependency, and the Browns have said in the past that he could be out and prepared to participate in the team's offseason program in late April. He recently took a break from rehab for a round of golf with his father, so things seem to be trending in the right direction for him.
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