Johnny Manziel Rushes for 2 TDs, Throws Interception vs. Spring League West

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistApril 13, 2018

Former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) prepares for a developmental Spring League game, Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Austin, Texas. Manziel is hoping to impress NFL scouts in his bid to return to the league. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

After making his Spring League debut Saturday, Johnny Manziel was back under center for the South on Thursday.

And he did so against fellow ex-NFL quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Manziel—who went for 82 yards and a touchdown in his first game in the league—sent out a tweet before the game to let fans know he was ready to continue his comeback attempt:

Johnny Manziel @JManziel2

Get to lace em up again today and I’m thankful for that #ComebackSZN @TheSpringLeague https://t.co/9lWT7AC8nl

The South fell behind, 7-0, but that's when the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner reminded everyone of his unique playmaking ability. He avoided pressure by using his legs and then showed off his arm on a 50-yard deep ball:

The Spring League @TheSpringLeague

QB Johnny Manziel (@jmanziel2) finds WR Antwan Goodley for a 50 yard completion in his first series of the evening. #TheSpringLeague https://t.co/bcj7ayak7k

That big gain led to the dual-threat quarterback tying the game with his mobility:

The Spring League @TheSpringLeague

QB Johnny Manziel (@jmanziel2) puts Team South on the board with a rushing touchdown of his own - his first TD on the ground in Spring League action! #TheSpringLeague https://t.co/8KxBYqTip7

On his team's next possession, Manziel again impressed with his legs:

The Spring League @TheSpringLeague

QB Johnny Manziel (@jmanziel2) putting the team on his back and fighting for the first down with his feet. #TheSpringLeague https://t.co/2l7dunsUz6

He capped off the drive with another rushing touchdown, escaping the pocket and breaking a tackle on his way to crossing the goal line:

The Spring League @TheSpringLeague

QB Johnny Manziel (@jmanziel2) rolls out and dives for the pylon to secure his second rushing TD of the evening and the 14-7 Team South lead! #TheSpringLeague https://t.co/P97j35BudR

By the time he played his last snap of the first half, he was 8-of-10 for 145 yards with two rushing touchdowns.

Manziel did not see the field in the third quarter. When he did return to action early in the fourth, his first drive back ended in an interception on an ill-advised throw into traffic near the line of scrimmage. 

The turnover would lead to a touchdown that helped the West double up the South, but it also gave Manziel a chance to bounce back quickly. Despite nearly throwing another interception, he immediately led his team down to the red zone before penalties derailed the drive.

The South led 14-7 when Manziel was subbed out in the first half and were down double digits when he returned to the field. He was not able to lead a rally, with his team ultimately falling, 34-17. He finished the game with 188 passing yards, two rushing touchdowns and an interception.

Overall, this performance was vintage Johnny Football. He found ways to make plays with his legs and provided glimpses of his arm strength.  

Manziel, 25, has been out of the NFL since the Cleveland Browns released him in March 2016. The former first-round pick is hoping that playing in The Spring League will earn him another opportunity, but he revealed last month that if no NFL team comes calling, he would head to the Canadian Football League to continue to try to prove himself.

"It was good to be back on the field," Manziel said after his debut Saturday, per NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman. "A lot of people would have just wrote me off to even get to this point. I'm definitely emotional about it. I'm definitely happy about it. This isn't the end goal for me, but I'm having fun again."

Not only are there questions about the former Texas A&M Aggies star's game, but his off-the-field issues have also given teams pause. Thus far, teams have decided the quarterback is not worth the distractions he could bring.

It was just this past week that Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman reported there are NFL execs who still believe Manziel's "potential is off the charts." Perhaps his play Thursday will convince a team to take a chance on him.