Posts Tagged ‘June Jones’

Johnny Manziel has made a very positive first impression on June Jones, head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised the last three weeks what a good teammate he is, how smart he is, how he sees the game,” Jones told David Newton of ESPN. “He should be playing in the National Football League and I believe he will when he gets through with us.”

Manziel reignited his career in May by signing a two-year contract with the Tiger-Cats after spending the last couple of years addressing his well-documented issues off the gridiron.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and Cleveland Browns first-round pick impressed in the preseason, but served as the backup quarterback for Jeremiah Masoli in Hamilton’s opening contest of the regular season.

“It’ll take two years,” Jones said of Manziel’s desired return to the NFL. “They’re (NFL executives, coaches) waiting to see that he’s taken care of his off-the-field problems.”

Jones also described Manziel as “humble,” and added that “he’s growing up every day.”

The 25-year-old Manziel is expected to be Masoli’s backup again Friday when the 0-1 Tiger-Cats take on the Edmonton Eskimos.

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Johnny Manziel handed the ball off with seven seconds left in the first half of his CFL preseason debut Friday, watched his tailback get immediately tackled, then jogged toward the locker room as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

One problem: in the CFL, the clock must expire with a final play.

Manziel retreated to the huddle, took one more snap with the clock reading 0:00, then jogged off again with his teammates in tow.

“Still feeling it out. It’s a different game,” Manziel said afterward of the adjustment to Canadian football’s unique rules and rhythms.

He learned some important lessons against live fire Friday, and finished the game a respectable 9-of-11 passing for 80 yards with another 10 yards on two carries. Manziel made plays with his legs, found open receivers on scrambles, and showed flashes of why his new head coach, June Jones, suggested last year that Manziel will become the best player in CFL history.

At other times, Manziel looked very much like a player with a scant two weeks of practice under his belt, too often bailing out of the pocket by running backwards or into the arms of a waiting defender.

With his personal life back on track, Manziel has merely begun the process of rehabilitating his football acumen. If he’s ever to become Johnny Football again, he must first learn to become Johnny Canadian Football.

It won’t happen right away. Jones has made it clear Manziel will not start when the Tiger-Cats open their regular season June 16 in Calgary. A backup role behind former Oregon passer and seven-year CFL veteran Jeremiah Masoli is the best Manziel can do for now.

Indeed, it’s unrealistic to expect Manziel to take the CFL by storm. Doug Flutie and Warren Moon, quarterbacks who dominated in Canada before their NFL success, each needed a full season to adjust to the CFL and its eccentricities.

And Manziel has no reason to hurry. NFL teams will monitor his progress – scouts from at least two teams, including New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan, were scheduled to attend Friday’s game – but Manziel’s deal with the Tiger-Cats ties him to the CFL for two seasons, meaning his next shot at the NFL won’t come until 2020.

For now, Manziel must focus on acclimating to CFL rules with the goal of eventually rediscovering the on-field magic that won him the Heisman Trophy as a freshman and made him a first-round pick in the NFL before it all came crashing down in a mess of booze, clandestine Vegas trips, and a domestic violence case.

For a place to focus on football and only football, Manziel couldn’t do much better than Hamilton. An hour down the highway from Toronto and its big-city vibe and temptations, Hamilton is sort of like a quainter Canadian Pittsburgh. Tim Hortons Field, home of the Tiger-Cats, towers among the red brick homes that surround it. Smokestacks of the steel mills are visible from almost every seat in the house. For $15, you can literally park on the front lawn of a home across from the stadium’s main entrance.

Hamilton’s blue-collar fans will embrace a hard worker on his second (or is it third?) chance, but they won’t put up with a diva. That’s one lesson Manziel appears to have taken to heart. He knows he can’t erase his past, and he’s made peace with that. He’s motivated by it.

On multiple occasions Friday, Toronto Argonauts defenders reminded Manziel of his infamy – and he gave it right back.

“I’m not here to be pushed over,” Manziel said after the game. “You can come at me because my name’s in the papers, my name’s on TV. You can come at me. I’m not backing down. I’m here for a reason. I’m here to play ball. I’m not going to be treated like s—.”

This is a long game for Manziel. He started at the very bottom, and he has a long way to go before he approaches anything close to the top. He’s finally on the way up, though.

Maybe the clock really did hit 0:00 on Manziel’s career, but in Canada, you still get to run one more play.

Johnny Manziel is set to make his CFL debut with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Friday’s preseason game against the Toronto Argonauts.

It’s been more than two years since Manziel played his final NFL game with the Cleveland Browns, but he’s ready to get going.

“It’s going to be fun just getting back on the field, getting the chance to play, take some snaps, and do what I love doing,” Manziel told reporters Thursday, after the team’s final walk-through. “I’m excited from a personal standpoint just to get back, take some snaps, and run around.”

But head coach June Jones reaffirmed a previous statement that he views Jeremiah Masoli as the Ti-Cats starter for the entirety of the coming season, by saying he’ll start Friday’s game.

“Masoli is going to play until I feel good about it,” Jones said of the preseason game. “And then the rest of the game will be whatever we decide – 15 plays each, or whatever.”

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach June Jones said Monday he expects Johnny Manziel to make his CFL debut Friday in the preseason game against the Toronto Argonauts, according to TSN.

June praised Manziel for being mentally “plugged in” since his arrival north of the border, but said he won’t force the former NFL first-round pick into action if he doesn’t feel the passer is fully prepared.

Jeremiah Masoli sits atop the Tiger-Cats’ quarterback depth chart after starting 12 games in 2017. Manziel, meanwhile, is set to battle for his place in a quarterback room that also contains Vernon Adams Jr.Bryant Moniz, and Dane Evans.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats coach June Jones has already been very forthcoming about his admiration for Johnny Manziel, and he took it to another level Thursday.

The Tiger-Cats hold Manziel’s league rights, and in an appearance on CFL podcast “The Waggle,” Jones had lofty praise for the former Cleveland Browns quarterback.

“I think (Manziel) would be the best player to ever play up here,” Jones told hosts James Cybulski and Davis Sanchez. “He can throw it and he can run it like nobody has ever been able to do.”

Jones worked out Manziel twice and clearly came away impressed. While the former Texas A&M star flamed out in the NFL, Manziel was one of the most dominant college football players in recent memory. He became the first SEC player in history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

Upon winning the Heisman Trophy in 2012, Manziel gave a shoutout to CFL legend Doug Flutie, a player many consider the best in league history.

“I have been dreaming about this since I was a a kid, running around the backyard pretending I was Doug Flutie, throwing Hail Marys to my dad,” he said, according to The Associated Press.

The Tiger-Cats have two strong quarterbacks on the roster, but Jones admitted it will be tough to keep both Jeremiah Masoli and Zach Collaros. That’s helping drive Jones’ interest in having Manziel compete for a spot.

“You always have to have two guys. I would see that (Manziel) would be very competitive, there’s no question about it,” Jones said. “You can’t have too many of those guys, and once Johnny would get his shot in there, I think he would be hard to unseat.”