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Browns' Karlos Dansby, Joe Haden defend Johnny Manziel

Karlos Dansby and Joe Haden, two key members of the Cleveland Browns' defense, offered support for quarterback Johnny Manziel on Wednesday.
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Cleveland Browns linebacker Karlos Dansby and cornerback Joe Haden offered support for quarterback Johnny Manziel on Wednesday.

Manziel's already damaged reputation took another hit last week when an ESPN story quoted an anonymous Browns player as saying the rookie quarterback thought the entire season was a "100 percent joke." Other anonymous Browns sources in the story also criticized Manziel's work ethic and off-field lifestyle.

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Haden, the Browns' All-Pro cornerback, defended Manziel in the ESPN story, saying, "I'm all about giving second chances." He echoed those statements to Around the NFL on Wednesday.

The Browns cornerback told Around the NFL on Wednesday that Cleveland's first-round passer can still emerge as the long-term solution under center.

"I feel like he could be. He could be," Haden said. "Rookie seasons, they go however, but I think Johnny really understands what he needs to do to be successful."

The Browns started last season 6-3, but finished an AFC North-worst 7-9. Manziel started the last two games of the season and completed 50 percent of his passes for 112 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

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Dansby, who just finished his first season with the Browns, told NFL Network that he believes the Browns can still win with Manziel as their starting quarterback.

"Oh without a doubt," Dansby said. "It's gonna take a lot of sacrifices. Guys can't have egos, you gotta check 'em at the door. We gotta ... rally around each other and continue to fight for each other, just play lights-out football, and that's what we're gonna (have to do to get there)."

Mike Fiammetta