TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — This week, everyone gets to watch Johnny play football.
The Browns have relaxed their media limitations to see rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel practice. Manziel, who will compete with Brian Hoyer for Cleveland’s starting job, will take part in the club’s three-day organized team activities, which began Tuesday. The Browns are allowing national media to cover the workout after limiting access for their rookie minicamp last week to only local reporters and photographers.
First-year Browns coach Mike Pettine only permitted access for 15 minutes of practice on Saturday. Manziel threw three passes and did some stretching during the period the workout was open. Sunday’s workout was closed.
On Wednesday, Cleveland’s entire practice session will be open to both local and national media members. Pettine, who was on New York’s coaching staff when the Jets acquired celebrated quarterback Tim Tebow, is trying to contain the hype surrounding Manziel, the flashy Texas A&M quarterback Cleveland selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
The Browns received push back from some national outlets upset about being denied credentials.
“We’re well aware of what the league rules are and we’ll open it up to the national media this week,” Pettine said at a banquet in Akron on Monday night. “I think it’s once a week is the policy. We’re not going to go overboard with it. There will be a limited amount of time you can film and certain players will be available certain days. That’s how we’ll go moving forward.”
Pettine believes too much was made of last week’s media restrictions. His objective was to keep the media to a minimum so as not to cause a distraction for his young players.
“It was overblown a little bit,” he said. “It was more rewarding the local media than it was punishing. The words ‘ban’ and ‘punishing,’ to me that was nonsense.'”
The Browns haven’t always received positive media feedback, mostly because the team has been a perennial loser and there has been nearly constant turnover with the front office and coaches.
Pettine knows one way to change the Browns’ — and Cleveland’s — national perception.
“The only way we’ll get credibility with the national media is if we win,” he said. “I was more concerned about the how the hype would affect the team, and that’s my primary concern is the team. It’s all about football. Whether we have some national people that are upset with us, so be it. We’re going to undersell and overproduce.”
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