Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-2.5, 40.5 o/u)
NFL Fans were hoping to see two former Heisman trophy-winning QBs square off in Week 3 of the preseason. But thanks to a lingering elbow injury, Cleveland pivot Johnny Manziel won’t be suiting up when the Browns face Jameis Winston and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers tomorrow at Raymond James Stadium (7:00 PM Eastern).
“Johnny Football” will miss the remainder of the preseason with the injury, which has hampered him since high school. Head coach Mike Pettine has stated that veteran QB Josh McCown is no. 1 on the Cleveland depth chart, but had also been impressed with Manziel’s progress during training camp and the preseason. The coach was candid with his disappointment about the injury, but is confident the young pivot will continue to get better.
“You can’t get those reps back,” Pettine told the Associated Press. “He’ll lose out on all that real-game experience, but we’re very pleased with where he is currently. If we truly felt like, ‘Hey, he needs to get out there and get these reps,’ then this is something we could have worked through.”
With Manziel out, the Browns will play Josh McCown, Thad Lewis, and newly-signed Pat Devlin in Tampa. McCown, the probable starter for week 1 of the regular season, is coming off an awful performance against the Buffalo Bills last week in which he threw two interceptions.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, meanwhile, are hoping to see continued progress from their own youngster, Winston. After a brutal Week 1 performance, “Famous Jameis” rebounded in Week 2 against the Bengals, completing 8 of 13 passes for 90 yards while adding a rushing touchdown. Perhaps more importantly, the rookie looked comfortable and under control in the pocket.
“[Jameis] has been doing a great job of being a rookie and letting all the older guys lead,” defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said to Fox Sports. “And I told him, I said, ‘I’m telling you right now, when that face of the franchise flips to being your title, you will see, it’s tough. But it’s coming because you’re the quarterback. That’s just how it works. So right now just enjoy being a rookie’.”
In the trends, Tampa coach Lovie Smith is 23-23 in the preseason in his career while Pettine is a dreadful 1-5. The Bucs did a lot of good things last week against the Bengals, while the Browns struggled to put up points against the Bills even with Manziel in the lineup (ultimately falling 11-10). Look for the Bucs to take another W.
Pick: Bucs (-2.5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo may appear cropped.)
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