MONTREAL – Hamilton Ticats quarterback Johnny Manziel continues to progress and adapt to the Canadian game, and will start the season as Jeremiah Masoli’s backup.
Following a strong showing in his first preseason game versus the Toronto Argonauts where he completed nine of 12 passes for 80 yards, the Texan again looked sharp and efficient versus the Montreal Alouettes.
On Saturday afternoon his impact was immediate. Midway through the second quarter and without a single first down in the game, Manziel was summoned into the game. He entered the huddle and instantly led the Ticats downfield, tossing his first CFL touchdown pass to running back Alex Green. Manziel even drew a roughing penalty on the drive.
Ticats head coach June Jones said that Manziel has performed well thus far in his short CFL career, but still needs more in-game action.
“I gave him a little bit more out there,” Jones said. “He’s still a little bit rusty but he’s a competitor. He knows what’s going on. He’s seeing what’s going on.”
Manziel was happy with his performance, noting the value of pre-season reps.
“Any time I’m getting in and getting reps, that’s a positive day,” he said. “Just go out and treat it like we’re having a scrimmage against another team.”
Manziel is still in the midst of transitioning to a significantly different brand of football compared to what he grew up with. Despite his high completion percentage early on, Manziel acknowledged the work he still needs to do to learn the Canadian game.
“Getting there,” he said. “By no means is it perfect or close to perfect, but there are some flashes, things I know and feel comfortable with, things I know and should hit on the field.”
Some of the rules have taken some getting used to.
“I’m still learning some of the different rules like how a major foul is a loss of a down and 15 yards, that’s just crazy to me,” he said. “It’s nuts. I’m still learning things but we’re getting there.”
Dozens of fans showed up at Percival-Molson Stadium, chanting Manziel’s name when he took the field on his first series in the second quarter. Manziel thanked the spectators for their support.
“It’s cool,” he said. “This game, football, has been a crazy ride for me. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve garnered a lot of fans over the last couple of years and I’m very thankful for that, especially being in a foreign place.”
Coach Jones again said that the team is actively trying to trade quarterback Vernon Adams, and that he’s spoken with a couple of teams about his services. In seven career CFL games, the 25-year old Adams has thrown for four touchdowns and 583 yards.
“I’ve put it in the hands of his agent, and we’re going back and forth until it happens,” Jones said.
Masoli, Manziel and the Ticats open the season with two games in Alberta, beginning Saturday night in Calgary.