CLEVELAND (AP) – Johnny Tennis Ball just doesn’t sound right.
But Johnny Manziel’s sore right elbow has prevented the Browns’ backup quarterback from throwing a football for several weeks and limited him to throwing tennis balls and weighted balls during his rehab.
Browns coach Mike Pettine said Manziel’s recovery is “on schedule” and the second-year QB could resume throwing a football as early as Friday. However, Pettine added that Manziel’s injury has him somewhat concerned as the team prepares for its Sept. 13 season opener against the New York Jets.
With final decisions being made on the Browns’ 53-man roster, Manziel’s status has Pettine apprehensive about his quarterback situation.
“Anytime your backup is coming off of an injury and you’re not exactly sure when he’s going to be 100 percent, there’s reason for angst,” Pettine said on a teleconference. “We really take into account the reports from the trainers and we’ll factor that into how we lay out the 53.”
Manziel has been dealing with tendinitis in his forearm and elbow for nearly a month and said earlier this week that the condition has bothered him periodically since his freshman year at Texas A&M.
Manziel said surgery is not necessary, but he hasn’t thrown a football since Aug. 11 and he sat out Cleveland’s final two exhibitions. Thad Lewis moved ahead of Manziel on the depth chart and started Thursday’s exhibition finale against Chicago. If Manziel isn’t ready this week, Lewis will likely serve as the backup to starter Josh McCown in Week 1.
Pettine said the team has not yet decided if it will keep three quarterbacks on its roster. All NFL teams must trim from 75 to 53 players before a deadline on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Browns announced that Bill Kuharich, the team’s executive chief of staff, will oversee player personnel while general manager Ray Farmer serves a four-game suspension for sending text messages to the sideline during games last season. Farmer’s suspension begins Sunday and will end following Cleveland’s Oct. 4 game at San Diego.
Kuharich has been with the club since last year. He has previously worked in New Orleans and Kansas City, where he was on the same staff as Farmer.
Pettine said the Browns are settled “on a vast majority” of their roster. One of the biggest decisions yet to be made is on wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, the former Oakland quarterback attempting to switch positions at age 26.
Pryor, who has been slowed by a nagging hamstring injury, final got into a preseason game on Thursday night in Chicago. Pryor didn’t catch a pass, but he took two snaps at quarterback and even blocked for the punt team.
The Browns have been enamored by Pryor’s potential from the start, and Pettine acknowledged giving him a roster spot will require some unknown projection.
“It is a project to take a guy that has played quarterback for the vast majority of his football career,” he said. “Even if he had stayed completely healthy, I don’t know if we would have all the results in or feel 100 percent comfortable.”