Down 16-8 to the Birmingham Iron with 7:12 left in the second quarter, Manziel replaced starting quarterback Brandon Silvers. His first AAF play looked a lot like what used to be the norm for him as the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner at Texas A&M as he scrambled for a 13-yard gain.
On the same drive, the 2014 No. 22 overall selection of the Cleveland Browns hit Express wide receiver Alton "Pig" Howard down the sideline for a 36-yard gain and his first AAF completion.
Silvers played the majority of the second half and led the Express to a 31-25 overtime comeback, but Manziel was good for another impressive completion to wide receiver Reece Horn. Manziel ended the night with three completions on five attempts for 48 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The Express acquired Manziel on March 16 when he signed a player contract with the AAF. The Express claimed Manziel off waivers.
"This league is exactly what a lot of guys needed," Manziel said at his introductory press conference, per the Express. "There's a limited amount of opportunities and reps you get in the NFL or elsewhere."
Manziel will have to fight for his opportunity in Memphis as Silvers made a strong case to maintain the starting job on Sunday night.