PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN) – In his more than 50 years in the NFL as a player and coach, Dick LeBeau has seen thousands of rookies come into the league.
After Thursday’s practice, the Steelers defensive coordinator had two members of this year’s draft class on his mind—his own prized pupil linebacker Ryan Shazier and Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel.
LeBeau repeated what he said during the preseason that he expects Manziel to play in Sunday’s opener at Heinz field.
“I’ll be very surprised if we don’t see him,” said LeBeau. “Let’s face it, he’s been one of the top football players in the nation for several years. It’s not a magic wand he’s waving out there, he’s creating situations and making plays. They’re going to want to give him game action, I’m sure of that.”
LeBeau believes that if Manziel plays, he’ll be more of a running threat than starter Brian Hoyer, saying, “Manziel will take off if it’s designed or not.”
Shazier, an Ohio State Buckeye as was his coordinator, will be the first rookie to start for a LeBeau-coached defense over the past decade. LeBeau said he isn’t a finished product, but he’s ready and a good football player.
“I don’t think he’s been all that inconsistent, he’s just been a rookie. He goes the wrong way every now and then,” LeBeau said.
And LeBeau can live with rookie mistakes as long as a player gives his all, adding, “We’re not going to tolerate lack of effort.”