The Cleveland Browns opened organized team activities on Tuesday and wouldn't you know it, people are interested in the quarterback depth chart. Free agent acquisition Josh McCown opened workouts by taking reps with the starters while second-year player Johnny Manziel worked with the second team, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
McCown was always expected to be the starter, but Manziel is expected to challenge McCown for the job at some point. Whether that will actually take place this offseason is still up in the air. For now, the Browns are trusting Manziel with the immediate backup duties. Cleveland also has Thad Lewis and Connor Shaw at the quarterback position.
How did Manziel perform in his first go at OTAs? The reports are mixed, though there isn't a ton to go on. Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal pointed out a pick-six Manziel threw when he missed wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, while Kevin Jones of the team website reports Manziel was "humming" the football on Tuesday and hit Rodney Smith on a 45-yard pass.
Here are more news and notes from OTAs on Tuesday:
Carr still not throwing
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is dealing with an injury to his right ring finger and is not throwing during the team's OTAs. It's worth noting the second-year pro was wearing a helmet and cleats during Tuesday's session and was active for individual drills. He even handed the ball off, but throwing was a no-go. The big question is whether Carr will be ready to go for the team's mandatory minicamp on June 9. He is expected to be ready when training camp rolls around in July, according to CSN Bay Area.
The Raiders have struggled for a long time, but most experts believe they've strung together multiple productive offseasons and could soon be ready to compete. A lot is riding on Carr to utilize Michael Crabtree and rookie Amari Cooper to make the Raiders a strong offensive force, so it's not surprising the team is being cautious with his injury.
Jones attends OTAs
Julio Jones could be in line for a massive contract extension in the near future. The Atlanta Falcons exercised the fifth-year option in his contract, meaning he's with the team through 2015, but he has nothing set beyond that. Fortunately, Jones isn't among those players who keep away from the team while awaiting a long-term extension -- he was active and participating when things got underway on Tuesday, as noted by NFL.com.
The Falcons will likely be working hard at getting Jones extended at some point this season. If they don't, smart money is on them using the franchise tag. There's no way, barring massive regression or off-the-field issues, that Jones ends up somewhere else in 2016. It looks like he knows that, too.
Multiple players absent elsewhere
As noted in the link to NFL.com above, multiple teams were without big-name players at OTAs. The Seattle Seahawks were without Russell Wilson, Jimmy Graham, Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. Though Wilson and the Seahawks haven't agreed on a new contract, he missed the sessions for personal reasons, alongside Avril and Graham. Bennett is seeking a new contract and was absent for that reason, according to the report.
Then there's San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle and Browns safety Tashaun Gipson, who are looking for long-term deals and chose not to attend the OTAs. Detroit Lions safety James Ihedigbo is taking a different approach, attending the Lions' OTA sessions as a "show of faith," according to the report. Gipson and Weddle are among the best at their position and should have some leverage.
Of course, given that these are the early goings of the offseason programs, it's not a huge deal if players are absent. It will be a much bigger problem if players don't show up to mandatory training camp while seeking new deals, but we're over a month out from that being a concern.