CLEVELAND: With all of the attention Johnny Manziel receives, it’s easy to forget that the Browns have another rookie quarterback who’s in the midst of another competition.
Connor Shaw, though, refuses to sell himself short by playing along with “the other guy” label.
“No, I don’t look at it that way at all,” Shaw said Thursday as he, Manziel and other rookies participated in a youth football clinic at FirstEnergy Stadium. “I think it’s a lot of positive buzz for Cleveland. I think it’s a great thing to have Johnny here. We’ve established a pretty good relationship, and [we’re] pushing each other. So we’re going to just compete and bring out the very best in each other.”
Shaw went undrafted last month out of the University of South Carolina. Still, the Browns targeted him as a priority free agent after working him out and hosting him for a visit during the pre-draft process. They signed him May 12.
Manziel’s battle with veteran Brian Hoyer for the starting quarterback job generates headlines on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Meanwhile, Shaw is fighting veteran Tyler Thigpen for the third spot on the depth chart.
In two of the past four seasons, the Browns have started three quarterbacks, so the No. 3 job is more significant than some think. No Browns quarterback has started all 16 regular-season games since Tim Couch in 2001.
“My job right now is to take advantage of the reps I get and make sure I’m ready whenever they call me,” Shaw said. “So I’m just going to establish my role, and whenever my name’s called, I’m going to be ready.”
The 6-foot, 206-pound Shaw didn’t win a Heisman Trophy like Manziel, but he did build a stellar resume in college. He became the winningest quarterback in South Carolina history, posting a 27-5 record as a starter, including a 17-0 record at home. As a senior last season, he completed 180-of-284 passes (63.4 percent) for 2,447 yards and 24 touchdowns with just one interception.
Like the 5-11¾, 210-pound Manziel, Shaw can do damage on the ground, as evidenced by his 17 career rushing touchdowns at South Carolina. He realizes his ability to move in and out of the pocket makes him a good fit for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s scheme.
“I really enjoy [the offense],” Shaw said. “I think [Shanahan has] done a lot of good things for some mobile quarterbacks like RG3 [Robert Griffin III], so he’s starting to implement kind of more of a pistol offense. And, of course, we’ll still be a more traditional pro-style offense, but he does a lot of good stuff, especially with guys like Johnny coming in, for mobile quarterbacks.”
But Shaw’s physical attributes will only take him so far as he attempts to transition to the NFL. He knows his study habits will be vital this summer as he prepares for training camp to begin in late July.
“I plan on going back to South Carolina to continue training and dial in this playbook, try and learn it in and out,” Shaw said. “I’ll go back down south and hopefully get some good off time and at the same time prepare myself to come to training camp.”
Nate Ulrich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Browns blog at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.