LATROBE, Pa. -- Dick LeBeau is already preparing for Johnny Manziel as the longtime defensive coordinator said he expects the 2014 first-round draft pick to start Sept. 7 when the Cleveland Browns visit the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener for the AFC North rivals.
"I'm not coaching Cleveland. I don't know what they're going to do. I'm just telling you what I'm doing," LeBeau said Wednesday. "I'm taking a good look at [Manziel], let's put it that way."
Manziel is second on the Browns' depth chart behind Brian Hoyer but he will be given a chance to win the starting job. The Browns play their first preaseason game Saturday night when they visit the Detroit Lions. Hoyer will start that game, Browns coach Mike Pettine said Wednesday.
Manizel has energized the Browns' fan base since Cleveland took the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner with the 22nd pick of the draft. The Browns are hoping "Johnny Football" shuts down what has been a revolving door at quarterback since the NFL returned to Cleveland in 1999.
LeBeau lavished praise on Manziel, whose freewheeling style and size have raised questions about whether he will succeed in the NFL following a storied career at Texas A&M.
"He makes plays and he was playing against some real talented athletes in [the SEC]," LeBeau said. "From what I could see, they were getting up there around 45, 50 points per game, so your quarterback's got to be doing something right. And he can keep the play alive."