Rams hope to see plenty of Johnny Football in game with Cleveland

News-DemocratAugust 22, 2014 

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher wants to see Cleveland rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel taking a lot of snaps in his team's preseason matchup against the Browns on Saturday night.

Fisher said keeping the elusive Manziel contained is a good challenge for his defense.

"I'm hoping he gets to play a lot," Fisher said. "He's an outstanding athlete, and he'll test our defense if he breaks the pocket and takes off running."

Manziel, who has already lost out to veteran Brian Hoyer in a battle for job of Browns starting quarterback, is known for his brashness.

He has fined $12,000 for flipping his middle finger at the Washington sideline during his team's preseason game against the Redskins on Monday night.

Fisher doesn't expect any obscene gestures from Manziel on Saturday.

"I'd say it's highly unlikely that he were to do something like that," Fisher said. "I think he's probably learned from his experience."

Hoyer has completed 8 of 20 passes for 108 yards and no touchdowns in the preseason, while Manziel has completed 14 of 27 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown in the preseason.

ESPN reported that the Browns are considering a two-quarterback system this year as a way of getting Manziel on the field.

The Rams should be close to full strength for the game as left tackle Jake Long, defensive tackle Michael Brockers, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and right guard Rodger Saffold all are expected to make their preseson debut against the Browns.

All four have worked their way back from injuries.

Middle linebacker James Lauriniaitis has returned to practice, but he might not play against the Browns. Laurinaitis has been out with an ankle injury suffered early in training camp.

The Rams will have their starting offensive line and secondary in tact for the first time in the preseason.

"Really our hope is to play (our starters) the first half," Fisher said. "Some guys may come out just a little sooner, but, that'll be our guidelines to try and get the starters to play at least a half."

The third preseason game is generally considered the dress rehearsal for the regular season, but Fisher hinted that his starters also might see a lot of time in the team's preseason finale at Miami next Thursday.

"We probably will play more in the fourth game because we like to build reps," Fisher said. "But again, if you go to the back end of the roster we're looking for guys that are competing for spots. We're looking for improvement out of the younger group of players on special teams. We got to minimize our special teams' penalties. I'm kind of excited about getting the secondary together for the first time this year. That's going to be a good thing. (Rookie cornerback) Lamarcus (Joyner) will line up and play in the slot for us, then of course it's good to get Jake and Rodger back for the first time."

The Browns have a new coach in Mike Pettine, the former defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets.

The Browns hire Kyle Shannahan, the son of former NFL head coach Mike Shannahan, to be their offensive coordinator.

Shannahan has been charged with improving a running attack that ranked last in touchdowns with four and 27th in yards with 1,383 last year.

The Browns signed free agent Ben Tate from the Houston Texans to serve as their starting running back.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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