- Associated Press - Monday, December 8, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) - As Johnny Manziel waits to see if the Browns will make him their starting quarterback this week, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called the rookie “a midget” during a radio interview on Monday night.

Speaking on a weekly Bengals show on WLW-AM in Cincinnati, Lewis was asked if the uncertainty about Cleveland’s quarterback situation affected their preparation for a game Sunday in Cleveland. Browns coach Mike Pettine hasn’t decided if the 6-foot Manziel will replace struggling starter Brian Hoyer and make his first NFL start against the Bengals.

“No, it doesn’t,” Lewis said. “It doesn’t at all. You’ll get a little bit more movement if Manziel’s the quarterback, the thing that they did against (last week against) Buffalo. But other than that, no, it doesn’t impact you at all. You’ve got to go defend the offense, you don’t defend the player.”

As one of the program’s hosts began asking another question, Lewis interrupted and said, “particularly a midget.”

Through the team’s publicity department, Lewis later apologized for the comment.

“I apologize to Johnny, the Browns and to all the fans in Cleveland,” Lewis said in his statement. “It was just a poor remark. I really didn’t mean anything by it.”

A message was left seeking comment from the Browns.

The Bengals (8-4-1) lead the AFC North by a half-game over Pittsburgh and Baltimore following a 42-21 loss to the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. The Browns beat the Bengals 24-3 in a Thursday night game on Nov. 6, with Hoyer completing 15 of 23 passes for 198 yards.

Pettine said Monday that he might be leaning toward switching to Manziel, who came off the bench two weeks ago against the Bills. Hoyer has thrown just one touchdown pass and eight interceptions in his last four games.

Pettine considered a switch last week but decided to stick with Hoyer, the Cleveland-area native who had the Browns (7-6) in the hunt for their first playoff appearance since 2002.

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AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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