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Johnny Football 2.0 on full display in Browns' home opener

Johnny Manziel will make his third career start -- this time without all the distractions -- on Sunday for the Cleveland Browns. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

CLEVELAND -- Never has the Johnny Manziel experience been so clear-cut.

If he fails this time, it's because he can't get it done on the field.

Off the field is not a question for the Cleveland Browns, who feel that Manziel -- making his third career start Sunday against Tennessee in replace of the injured Josh McCown -- accepted the guidance from the new offensive staff. He wanted that discipline, that structure.

No more slamming the ball on the turf after a bad practice play. No more sleeping in on game weekends.

It's about his arm now. It's about his progressions, his footwork, his pocket presence.

It's about football, for once.

Johnny Football hibernates somewhere inside The 9 in downtown Cleveland, replaced by a guy who's blending in as one of the guys in the locker room.

Is he ready? When asking Browns people this privately, the answers are the same: Hope so.

Even the keenest football mind won't know exactly what to expect here. As colleague Pat McManamon pointed out, the Browns were ready to start the concussed McCown after one day of practice if he was cleared by a neurologist in time. That seems telling. The Browns are still more comfortable with McCown because he hasn't done anything to lose the starting job. Despite Manziel's 54-yard touchdown pass against the Jets, his three turnovers were unsettling. He resorted to breaking the pocket too early in the second half.

At least the Browns can see what they have now. Seven quarters of rookie play was never enough to truly assess Manziel. Four more quarters this week might not be enough, either, but there's a real, unclouded quarterback ready to be evaluated off a full game plan after a week's worth of starter's reps. He spent the past six months trying to become a respectable NFL quarterback.

The timing is good for the Browns, and it's good for Manziel.

No distractions about missed meetings and lost focus and parties.

No Drake, no sycophants draining energy, no LeBron photo ops.

The last time Manziel took the FirstEnergy Stadium field in Week 15 of last season, friends and family came to watch, a white SUV dropped off Manziel in an alternate entrance to avoid awaiting media, and merchandise businesses hung No. 2 jerseys destined to be sold. This day would launch Manziel into a new quarterback stratosphere, as the theory went.

Instead, Manziel produced the worst starting-quarterback debut since Rusty Smith in 2010. The images of Bengals defensive linemen flashing money signs are still fresh. Manziel was engulfed by his own fame. He wasn't close to becoming a functional NFL quarterback.

This feels different now.

Manziel and the Browns can assess their marriage on their own terms.

Until Week 3, when McCown recovers from his concussion. Then it could get complicated.