Johnny Manziel: I’m here for a reason; I’m here to play ball

Johnny Manziel had his Welcome to the CFL moment early in his preseason debut against the Toronto Argonauts. The incident led to the Hamilton backup quarterback exchanging words with an Argonauts player.

I was trying to help a guy up out of the pile and he wanted to say some foul stuff, Manziel said, via Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. Listen, I’m not here to be pushed over. You can come at me because my name is in the papers or on TV, so you can come at me. I’m not backing down. I’m here for a reason. I’m here to play ball, and I’m not going to be treated like [expletive]. It is what it is.

I thought when he was coming to talk to me he was going to tell me that. You know… I’m still learning a lot of things up here. I’m jogging into the locker room at halftime with zeros on the clock, and we have another play. There are going to be some of those growing pains. Coach [June] Jones told me that when I got here. But we’ll take them in stride.

Left tackle Matt Kalil told Bill Voth of the team’s official website that he’s feeling normal again, after a year spent recovering from hip surgery. He was able to play last year, but said he didn’t feel like himself until training camp, and that resulted in a slow start for a guy previous G.M. Dave Gettleman gave a five-year, $55 million contract to.

Obviously, you saw during the season the first few games I was kind of just iffy and a little behind, Kalil said. Even coach Ron Rivera, one of the most positive coaches in the league, admitted: Early on he was stiff.

That slow start is something the Panthers can’t really afford this year, not as they’re looking for a replacement for All-Pro left guard Andrew Norwell, who left in free agency. But Kalil said feeling healthy again will allow him to show more of what he’s able to do, and allow him to actually work on football.

I used to have to do what I could to survive. Now it’s to the point where physically nothing’s holding me back, he said. So I have a chance to excel and work on the things I want to work on rather than doing maintenance 24/7 and just trying to survive out there.

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