There is a whole lot in common between Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. Both are from Texas. Both have Heismans. They’ve got catchy nicknames. They know how to create a commotion or two, and sometimes it comes back to bite. And they both sure can run.
“Anybody that wants to compare,” Griffin said, “I’m sure they’ll just look at us and say both of us are real fast, guys that can play backyard football at times.”
Now for a big difference: Griffin hasn’t had to compete for playing time in the NFL.
Griffin was anointed the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback about a week after he was drafted in 2012. He’s missed games because of injury and was shut down early last season in a power move by coach Mike Shanahan, but he hasn’t dealt with any sort of traditional training camp challenge that would place in doubt his spot atop the depth chart.
Manziel has no such luxury. Drafted No. 22 overall by the Cleveland Browns this year 20 spots lower than Griffin Johnny Football has been going mano a mano with Brian Hoyer.
The duel is about to hit its climax: The Browns visit RG3 and the Redskins tonight, and Cleveland coach Mike Pettine says he’ll pick his Week 1 regular-season starter Tuesday.
It’s one of those rare preseason games that packs a wallop, with every Manziel snap sure to be put under a microscope. Of course, he’s so used to it that maybe we should just call him Johnny Chaos.
“The chaos, everything that’s been going on the talk, the hype, the overreaction, the over-analysis has been from the day that I won the Heisman when I was a freshman, from that spring, to that fall, to the draft, to now,” he said. “If you look at it, it’s been a constant in my life. It’s been the one thing that’s been the most constant in my life for the past two years. I don’t even pay attention to it anymore.”
Pettine will start Hoyer but Manziel will play with the first team offense.
Romo return gets thumbs-up: The first time Tony Romo set up to pass, he had to twist slightly and move forward in the pocket before zipping a throw to Dez Bryant.
When Romo botched a handoff for a fumble a few plays later, the Dallas quarterback found himself hanging onto Baltimore’s Courtney Upshaw with one hand, unsuccessfully trying to prevent a touchdown.
The good news, following surgery for a herniated disk, is that Romo’s back held up.
Now he and the Cowboys have to figure out how much he’ll play Saturday night in an exhibition game at Miami. That figures to be his last action before the opener Sept. 7 against San Francisco.
“It just feels like playing football,” Romo said after a 37-30 preseason loss to the Ravens on Saturday night. “Anytime you come off surgery, I understand the predictions, the process you’re going through. Everyone’s going to have them. Some people come back stronger, better. Some people come back early, they’ve got to take more time and then get better. Each guy’s different.”
Nice rebound by Foles: When Nick Foles matched last year’s interception total in the first quarter of the first preseason game, the impatient critics began whispering about Michael Vick and Mark Sanchez.
They wondered if letting Vick go to the Jets would haunt the Eagles. They suggested that Sanchez would unseat Foles as the starter.
Foles bounced back from a poor performance against the Bears with a strong effort against the Patriots. He’s firmly entrenched as the starting quarterback, even if he still has to prove to doubters his breakout sophomore year was no fluke.
“You never want to have a bad game,” Foles said Sunday. “It’s always going to feel the same whether you’ve been the starter forever or you’re a new starter. But if it happens, it’s one of those things where no matter who you are, people are going to look at you as the quarterback to see how you bounce back, how you are on the bus after the game, how you are the next practice. I’m hard on myself. But I knew I could bounce back.”
Foles was 8 of 10 for 81 yards and one touchdown. He’s missing three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released in the offseason.
He also hasn’t had both starting wideouts, Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, because of injuries.