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Joe Thomas: Johnny Manziel lost trust of locker room last year

Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel might be nearing the end of his rehab, but he still has a way to go before he can legitimately walk back onto the field for his team.

Last year’s first-round pick still has a long climb back to football relevance, after making such a mess of his hand-delivered starting assignment last year. And it’s the way he handled that assignment that makes his teammates wonder.

“I think he’s going to have to prove to the team that football is important and being the man, being the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, is important, it is his goal, his single goal in his life,” left tackle Thomas told Tony Grossi of “You know, I think he lost probably a lot of trust among the guys on the team last year by the way he handled himself once he became the starter. And I think he had a lot of time to reflect, I’m guessing, after the season was over by the comments he made in the media and by his actions, checking himself into rehab, . . . I think those were really positive steps.

“I’m hoping when we comes back in April we see a new Johnny and everybody’s blown away with his commitment. And I think he’s got the talent, so it’s just a matter of if he commits himself to it, we can have a really good quarterback on our hands.”

Of course, the Browns have covered themselves for the possibility that he won’t by signing Josh McCown, and the fact they’ve been linked with Sam Bradford and Marcus Mariota makes it clear they’re not finished at the position.

“Obviously there’s some uncertainty with Johnny right now and that’s why we brought in Josh,” Thomas said. “He’s a guy that if he’s asked to carry the flag this year, he’s going to do a great job. There’s a chance we draft somebody or there’s a chance Johnny comes back and he’s a new person and he’s rededicated to football, and he turns into the great quarterback that we expected when we drafted him in the first round.”

And doing that might prove to be a bigger hurdle than anything he’s doing off the field.