Troy Polamalu tried to explain the attraction the football world has for rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel of the Cleveland Browns.
"I tried to make a point of watching him in college because it's hard not to be a fan of somebody like that. It's what everybody dreams of playing, especially someone like me who does not have an arm. I can scramble like that. I think that's the fascination."
Polamalu and the rest of the Steelers defense will pay more attention to Manziel this week as they prepare to play the Browns in the regular-season opener Sunday at Heinz Field. Even though Cleveland coach Mike Pettine said former Steelers quarterback Brian Hoyer will start, the Steelers expect to see Manziel in some special packages the Browns might have designed for the cocky, physical, elusive 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.
"I think so," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "I think they've seen enough of him to know that he can do certain things maybe the other kid can't. I think there will be certain packages. We've had to deal with that before. We'll prepare to see him at one point or another."
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau predicted early in training camp that Manziel would start for the Browns and the Steelers would prepare for him. He might not start, but they fully expect to get a taste of Johnny Football at some point Sunday.
"We'll look at him, we'll look at some of the stuff they do differently with him in there," Keisel said. "With a guy like that, you need to. He's got a lot of ability, a lot of hype."
The hype surrounding Manziel has made the Browns preseason camp and games a place to be for the national media, many of whom will be at Heinz Field to cover his first game. Former Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said this summer on 93.7 The Fan that he and others like him would love to get a shot at nailing Manziel.
No current Steelers have said anything along those lines, but they said they will be ready for him and believe they will get the first chance to deliver his welcome-to-the-NFL moment.
"Regardless who's in there, you want to go out and beat them, you want to make sure you're playing sound football," Keisel said.
"I know sometimes you see someone come in and you go 'ahhhhh' and freak out a little bit. We need to just maintain our job, maintain the things we've got to do during that play call and execute."
Polamalu believes the Browns can benefit by using Manziel in certain situations, "just because it would be a change of pace, a different package."
"The thing about it, New York tried to do that with Tim Tebow a little bit. But Tebow's a guy you have to just play and play and grind out the entire game. I don't think Johnny is that type of guy. I think if Johnny came into the game, he would make some splashes, he doesn't need to get into a rhythm."
(c)2014 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at www.post-gazette.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services