BEREA, Ohio--What a difference a year makes!
Just last year, Robert Griffin III was playing safety for the Washington Redskins scout team in practice.
Fast forward less than a year and Griffin will open the 2016 regular season as the 25th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999.
Not too many NFL quarterbacks have fallen so quickly from the top to the bottom as Griffin has.
Griffin was the Associated Press Rookie of the Year in 2012 and voted to the Pro Bowl after setting records for a rookie in passing rating (102.4), and rushing yards by a quarterback with 815. He passed for 3,200 yards, including 20 touchdowns, as well.
Griffin was inactive for all 16 games in 2015 and hasn't started a regular season game since Dec. 28, 2014.
“It is exciting," Griffin said. "Everything that I have been through personally in the league, it makes you have that emphasis on controlling what you can and focusing on what you can and when you get an opportunity make the most of it.
"Yeah, I’m extremely happy, not satisfied but happy with where I am, the opportunity that has been blessed upon me and being here with these guys is truly a blessing," he said. "I can’t speak enough about how this locker room has been awesome. I have been able to grow as a player and as a leader in this locker room.”
Griffin was 22-of-38 for 313 yards in the preseason (57.9 pct.) with three touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked six times and had a rating of 100.0. Griffin also rushed eight times for 40 yards, including a long of 22 yards.
Griffin has earned the respects of his teammates and according to Joe Haden, Griffin was voted one of the team captains.
"He just wants to just bond and have a friendship and bond with all of this teammates," Haden said. "He wants to be liked and doesn't think there's any reason to have anybody walking around and not talking to everybody. That's really special and one of the reasons the team picked him as one of the captains."
Isaiah Crowell said the offense is confident in Griffin.
“I have a lot of confidence in him," Crowell said. "I know he is a great quarterback. He has been a great quarterback. I have my trust in him. I feel like he is going to go out there and make stuff happen.”
Griffin is appreciative of the opportunity he has with the Browns, let alone be voted a captain in his first season with the team.
"You have to go out and lead by example," he said. "It's a blessing to be the face of the franchise or the team leader. It's not something you take lightly. I appreciate the guys in (the locker room) here giving me that opportunity, because you have to earn that. Nothing is given to you. You have to earn that. Coach (Jackson) gave mean an opportunity. (Executive vice president) Sashi (Brown) gave me an opportunity and the (team owners) Haslam's gave me an opportunity to come here and earn that position."
With 17 rookies and 26 new players on the roster from last year, the Browns aren't given much hope to have a great season by most NFL observers. However, the Browns want to get off to a good start this week at Philadelphia and feel facing a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz, they feel the opportunity it there.
"We want to get off to a great start," Griffin said. "We play this game and this league just one game at a time. We're just focused on Philly and not focused on anything else. We're not worried about any expectations, just focused on making sure we're doing our jobs to the best of our ability."
Since 1999, the Browns have only won one season-opening game and that was when they beat the Ravens to open the season in 2004.
Griffin thinks the Browns have a great opportunity in front of them and hopes to take advantage of that.
"We have an opportunity with these guys to see what this team can be and what this team can do," Griffin said. "We try every day in practice and OTAs and training camp and in the preseason, so I don't think for us it will be a surprise what we can do when we're clicking and we execute at a high level, but what everyone else expects and what they expect to see, we have no control over that and we just can't focus on that.
"We just want to win football games," he said. "We didn't do that in the preseason. Now, the game counts and the team knows it's up to us."
Browns Captains: DB Joe Haden said the captains that were voted on by the team were announced in a team meeting. Besides Haden, OL Joe Thomas, LB Tank Carder, QB Robert Griffin III and LB Demario Davis.
Wentz says he's 'Moved On': Eagles QB Carson Wentz was on the conference call with the Cleveland media Wednesday, but didn't really want to talk about the Browns passing over him in the draft.
"That's all in the past and I'm a very motivated person," Wentz said. "But I'm excited to be here in Philadelphia and get my first start."
Burley Still Out: CB Marcus Burley was the only player not practicing as the Browns started their week preparation to play the Eagles this Sunday. OL Joe Thomas (rest) sat out practice.
DePodesta Comments: Coach Doug Pederson was asked if the Eagles were aware of the comments that Browns Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta recently said when he said the Browns didn't consider QB Carson Wentz a top-20 quarterback in the draft.
“We definitely had heard the comments and all that, but everybody has their opinions," Pederson said on a conference call Wednesday. "Listen, we went to North Dakota. We worked him out. We spent a lot of time with him like everybody that has drafted quarterbacks in the National Football League. If you don’t spend time with those guys and come away feeling comfortable about your decisions, then you should probably look somewhere else.
"We just felt so comfortable at the Eagles to make the moves to go get Carson Wentz and felt very strong about the way we evaluated. (Eagles offensive coordinator) Frank Reich, (Eagles quarterbacks coach) John DeFilippo, (Eagles executive vice president of football operations) Howie Roseman and his team, (Eagles senior football advisor) Tom Donahoe, just looking at everything and exhausting everything, felt really comfortable. Everybody is going to have their opinion, obviously. That is just the way this business is but we are very comfortable with Carson and the direction he is headed.”
RG3 Responds to Green: Former Redskins DB Darrell Green ripped RG3 recently on a radio program, calling him 'childish and selfish' regarding Griffin's personal life and a report that he's going through a divorce, among other things. Griffin said he wasn't aware of the interview.
“No, I make sure I don’t focus on those things," he said. "That is the first time I have ever heard of that. That is not my job. For Darrell, a guy that I know personally, that is his prerogative. Whatever you say in a public sphere, you have to make sure you are ready to say that in a private sphere, as well. Darrell hadn’t approached me about anything, and I considered him a friend so that is disappointing. It is nothing that I can control. I just focus on being here with the Browns, worry about football, focus on that, and don’t let anything distract me.”
Pederson Remembers: Eagles first year coach Doug Pederson was the Browns quarterback after injuries to QB Tim Couch on the way to a 3-13 season. The Browns won just one game while he was at quarterback.
“It was almost like a relief, a weight, a burden off your shoulders," Pederson said. "It was exciting obviously to get that win finally and just sort of the excitement that the guys felt walking off of that field because I remember, too, that team that year was decimated with injury and there were a lot of new faces that year in Cleveland. Playing with a lot of new guys, it is tough in the National Football League to play with so many young guys and so many new players. To finally get that win and to walk off with all the hard work and everything that you have put in to trying to get just that one win was the exciting thing, just the joy walking off that field knowing that you had accomplished that win.”