Manziel scores in Browns’ loss to Redskins


CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh McCown scored on his first preseason possession with Cleveland. Robert Griffin III and Washington’s starters still can’t find the end zone.

McCown threw a touchdown pass in his debut for Cleveland and backup Johnny Manziel scrambled for a TD as the Browns, busting out new uniforms for the first time, built an early lead before losing 20-17 to the Redskins on Thursday night in their exhibition opener.

Signed to stabilize Cleveland’s troublesome position, McCown connected with the wide-open Travis Benjamin on a 2-yard TD in the first quarter.

“He looked lonely, so I threw him the football,” McCown said.

Griffin III went 4 of 8 passing for 36 yards during two possessions. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon dropped a long toss that would have been a TD.

Kirk Cousins rallied the Redskins, who trailed 14-3 in the second quarter. Cousins ran for a TD and went 12 of 14 for 154 yards.

Washington lost starting tight end Niles Paul to a broken ankle and running back Silas Reed sustained a knee injury.

“I’m sick about it,” coach Jay Gruden said of Paul’s season-ending injury. “He means a lot to this team.”

McCown, who went just 1-10 as a starter last year with Tampa Bay, completed all five passes in his one series.

Washington’s first-team offense didn’t produce a touchdown in the preseason last year, foreshadowing Griffin’s struggles in his third season.

Griffin has improved in training camp under new quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh.

RGIII took a hit in the midsection on one play while rolling away from pressure, but still completed a 22-yard pass.

“You’re going to get hit every now and then,” Griffin said. “I thought we did a good job moving the ball. Get in, get out and that’s all you can ask for.”

Manziel made a smart play darting 12 yards for his TD. But the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, trying to turn things around after a poor rookie season, stuck to his promise and skipped his signature “money” sign.

ON THE SIDELINE

Redskins: Starting WR DeSean Jackson sat out with a shoulder injury sustained during training camp. Outside LB Ryan Kerrigan was held out following arthroscopic knee surgery.

Browns: Pro Bowlers Joe Thomas and Joe Haden both sat out. Thomas, who has never missed a snap in his NFL career, hurt his right leg during practice earlier in the week. Haden has been slowed by a hamstring issue the past week. Terrelle Pryor, attempting to switch from quarterback to wide receiver, didn’t dress because of a lingering hamstring injury.

ROOKIE WATCH

Redskins: RB Matt Jones ripped off a 23-yard run in the second quarter and finished with 38 yards on five carries. The third-round pick from Florida was checked for a concussion.

Browns: With Thomas out, first-round pick Cam Erving started at left tackle. Erving was called for a holding penalty that was declined.

DEFENSIVE BREAKDOWNS

Redskins: The secondary lost track of Benjamin on Cleveland’s first TD. As McCown bought time, Benjamin crossed the end zone without a defender picking him up.

Browns: CB Justin Gilbert, a major disappointment as a rookie, got beat by Garcon and was lucky the Redskins’ wide receiver couldn’t handle Griffin’s throw. Gilbert was beaten on other completions.

KICKING IT

Redskins: Kai Forbath made field goals of 52 and 33 yards.

Browns: Carey Spear converted a 47-yarder in the third quarter. He’s batting Travis Coons for Cleveland’s starting job.

Ron Schwane | AP Photo Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) scrambles for a 12-yard touchdown during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins Thursday in Cleveland.
http://middlesborodailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_Browns-Manziel.jpgRon Schwane | AP Photo Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) scrambles for a 12-yard touchdown during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins Thursday in Cleveland.

Tom Withers

AP Sports Writer

 

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