Connor Shaw, on the practice squad as the Browns’ No. 3 quarterback, said Manziel has improved steadily since training camp, most notably his transition from a college offense to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s pro-style set.
“If he had to play this season, I think he’d be ready to go,” said Shaw, about Manziel’s readiness in case Hoyer got hurt, citing Manziel's growing comfort with the offense.
In the preseason, the Browns gave Manziel and Shaw zone-read looks to fit their skill sets and their college background. But Shaw said “both of us have adapted to the offense pretty well” since then.
Without starter’s reps, Manziel and Shaw have studied together in recent weeks. Hoyer has helped with that process, too, giving Manziel and Shaw tips on how to be a pro and learning the nuances of the game, Shaw said.
“I think it’s been awesome for both of us,” Shaw said. “We’ve been able to help each other.”
If the Browns keep a respectable record and/or Hoyer continues his steady pace – he’s eyeing a 4,000-yard season while playing turnover-free football – there’d be no reason to make a quarterback change. But it sounds like Manziel is using his time as a backup productively, just in case.
Of the top four quarterbacks in May’s draft, Manziel is the only one not starting right now. The other three teams had subpar quarterback situations upon their arrival, however, and Cleveland does not.