Johnny Football set for first CFL start

MONTREAL — Johnny Football finally gets to play football again.

Johnny Manziel will make his first Canadian Football League start Friday night when the Montreal Alouettes face the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the team the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner turned NFL bust began his comeback with. He last saw regular-season action with the NFL's Cleveland Browns in a 17-13 loss to Kansas City on Dec. 27, 2015.

"I'm hoping to come in and just provide above average, solid quarterback play and give us something consistent week in and week out," Manziel said Thursday. "I don't feel I need to come up here and completely light everything on fire and throw for 500 yards a game and do this and do that. I just want to come in and be a solid starter, eliminate turnovers and hopefully make some plays when needed. I feel I can contribute that for sure. I feel our offense is ready to go out and execute."

Hit by a series of quarterback injuries, Montreal traded for Manziel two ago weeks ago, and the former Texas A&M star backed up Vernon Aadms last week in a home loss to Edmonton. After going 21 of 32 for 168 yards and a touchdown in two exhibition games for Hamilton, Manziel watched starter Jeremiah Masoli play the first five regular-season games.

"What defense does John know better than any other defense in the league?" said first-year Montreal coach Mike Sherman, the former Green Bay coach and GM who lured Manziel to Texas A&M when he coached the Aggies. "He played against (Hamilton) every day (in practice). He'll have to start eventually and he'll have some growing pains. He's not going out there with any expectations. He's going out there to do a good job moving the football for us and I believe he'll do that."

The Alouettes are 1-5 and have won just once in 17 games going back a year.

"If we win this game we're back to where we want to be, even after the mishaps that we had at the start of the season," Manziel said. "It's a great opportunity for us. We're in a division that is a little down and that's good for us because we can capitalize on that and maybe get on a bit of a winning streak and put ourselves in contention to get in the playoffs."

Manziel will be the 14th quarterback to start for Montreal since CFL passing king Anthony Calvillo retired after the 2013 season.

"That was a different time than we have now in Montreal and it's something we're trying to get back to — being in contention every year and having a good playoff run and putting ourselves in position to win a Grey Cup," Manziel said. "But right now we're trying to build something, a championship team, and that takes time."

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