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Shutdown Corner

Johnny Manziel's preseason debut draws record TV ratings for NFL Network

Ben Rohrbach
Shutdown Corner

Johnny Football has already set his first official NFL record. 

According to the SportsBusiness Journal's John Ourand and Daniel Kaplan, Saturday night's Browns-Lions game earned the highest ratings ever for a preseason game broadcast on the NFL Network.

A reported 2.82 million viewers tuned in to see Johnny Manziel's Cleveland debut — nearly 40 percent more than the previous record of 2.07 million set by the 2007 Hall of Fame Game between the Saints and Steelers.

While Brian Hoyer started for the Browns, completing six-of-14 passing attempts (43 percent) for 92 yards, Manziel was the attraction. The No. 22 overall selection connected on seven of 11 passes (64 percent) for 63 yards in addition to rushing for another 27 yards on six carries during a 13-12 defeat in Detroit.

Manziel is now splitting first-team snaps with Hoyer, though Browns coach Mike Pettine has not said who will start next Monday's preseason game against the Washington Redskins.

While we know who LeBron James would like to see starting, the battle is expected to go down to the wire leading up to Cleveland's regular-season opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 7. The Browns also signed veteran Rex Grossman on Tuesday after waiving third-string QB Tyler Thigpen.

Considering both Manziel's potential and audience appeal, it'll be interesting to see who will eventually be starting under center come Week 11, when Cleveland plays its only scheduled NFL Network game of the regular season against in-state AFC North rival Cincinnati.

Monday's game against the Redskins will be broadcast on ESPN. Given the preseason ratings bonanza the NFL Network enjoyed, don't expect Johnny Football coverage to subside.

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