Will Johnny Manziel make AAF debut this week? Memphis offensive coordinator sounds optimistic

After just one week of practice in Memphis, it sounds like Johnny Manziel could be making his AAF debut on Sunday night, although nothing is set in stone yet. 

The controversial quarterback, who was added to the roster of the Memphis Express on March 16 after being banned from the CFL, has learned the team's offense so quickly that co-offensive coordinator Bobby Blizzard feels Manziel could play Sunday if the Express make the decision to put him in the game. 

"I think he's ready right now, just because he knows so much of our offense right now," Blizzard said Friday, via the league's official website. "He's building chemistry already with the weapons we have and the offensive line. He's familiar with everything that we do. If he gets in the game, I will call a play that he's familiar with."

The advantage for Manziel is that Blizzard runs an offense in Memphis that's similar to what the Heisman-winning quarterback ran at Texas A&M. 

"I mentioned the type of offense I ran, shouted some of the terminology I use, and his eyes lit up," Blizzard said. "He was calling out the plays before I even said anything. I looked at coach [Mike] Singletary and gave him a thumbs up. [Manziel] probably knew 75-to-80 percent of the offense before he even took a snap at practice."

Manziel has been splitting first-team reps this week with Memphis quarterbacks Brandon Silvers and Christian Hackenberg. Although Silvers will be the starter for Sunday's game against Birmingham, there's no guarantee he'll finish the game and that's because the quarterback situation has been a disaster for Memphis all season. 

Hackenberg started the first two games of the season for the 1-5 Express, before getting benched in favor of Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger then served as the team's starter for three weeks before going down with an ankle injury in Week 5, which led to Silvers starting last week in a 22-9 loss to the Salt Lake Stallions. 

On Manziel's end, he sounds like he's ready to go after a solid week of practice. 

"I feel like practice was 10 times better (Thursday) than it was (Wednesday)," Manziel said, via the Memphis Commercial Appeal. "I've been here early in the morning. I've stayed late at night. Watched film. I mean, the only thing negative I have is I'm trying to learn 65 people's names in 24-48 hours and I feel bad about not knowing everybody yet. Outside of that, I have no complaints."

If Silvers struggles against the Iron, it wouldn't be surprising to see Singletary pull him from the game and go with Manziel. Speaking of Singletary, although the hard-nosed coach might not seem like someone who would naturally mesh with a free spirit like Manziel, the two seem to be getting along.  

"He's been great since he's been here," Singletary said this week, via the Commercial Appeal. "There have been great comments from the guys. Great chemistry. So far, so good."

Of course, the Hall of Fame linebacker also pointed out that Manziel shouldn't be expecting any special treatment. 

"I don't want to baby him," Singletary told the Chicago Tribune. "This is an opportunity for him to take advantage of, and if for any reason he's not at the place to stand and really want this and is really willing to work for it, then it's not going to work anyway. I'm hoping this time he's ready and I really feel he is. I'm excited to see where he goes."

Although the two haven't known each other long, Johnny Football already sounds like he's a big fan of his new coach. 

"This is a guy who has known me for one day, and he genuinely cares about my success and about me as a person, not just football," Manziel said of Singletary. 

To see if Manziel makes his debut Sunday (March 24), you're going to want to make sure to tune-in. The game in Memphis between the Express and the Iron will be kicking off at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised by the NFL Network (here's how to watch). 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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