BEREA, Ohio--It's back to the future.
One of the best kept secrets will come to fruition as Robert Griffin III has officially been named the Browns starting quarterback for Sunday's game with the Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Hue Jackson made it official and named Griffin the starting quarterback before practice on Thursday. He admitted that he thinks it gives the Browns the best chance to win, but he also needs to see Griffin play.
“No, it is not so much to see," Jackson said. "He gives us a chance to win. Any decision I am making is for that locker room. Right now, it gives us the best opportunity to play well but also see him. That is part of it, too, but hopefully to give us a chance to go out and play better on offense."
Jackson said he saw enough of Griffin in practice to make the decision.
“Oh yeah, I think so," he said. "That is what I have seen in practice. I wanted to really evaluate it all because sometimes, guys tell you they can do that, but they will not do that. We won’t really know until Sunday, but I think what I have seen in practice is a guy who is ready to play. We will put him out there and go from there.”
Jackson said the more he practices the better he will be prepared.
“I think the more you work at it, the more you get in the flow of things in a live situation, as much as we can simulate it in practice, the better you are going to be," he said. "Robert is a pro. He understands. Trust me, he wants to be out there.”
Griffin said he's focused on the opportunity to play this week, nothing beyond.
"This is not about next year or next week," Griffin said after practice. "This is about this week."
Griffin said he thinks he's been able to get the rust off while practicing the last week. Griffin last played in the season opener against the Eagles when he fractured the coracoid bone in his left shoulder near the end of the game.
“Yeah, it has been a while since I have been back out, but the guys around me are going to make it a very smooth transition," Griffin said. "We are all out there fighting for each other. They know that not one guy can do this by himself and make a world of difference. It is going to take everybody, and that is why we are an offensive unit not just individual guys. We are all looking to pull our weight, do our jobs and make sure we can go out and put on a good show.”
Griffin will be starting for the second time this season, but overall, it is the sixth change at starting quarterback in the first 13 games of the season.
Griffin said he won't shy away from running or getting hit, but knows game situations are much different than practice.
“Yeah, I had a couple slides here and there (at practice), but no 350 pounders have landed on me yet," he said. "It is just something you have to be ready for. Football is a very physical game, and they are not going to shy away from trying to hit me. I just have to make sure I protect myself. I know my line is going to protect me. That is the goal is to not get the quarterback hit. We are going to do things to try to be conducive to that and I just can’t worry about those things. It is football. You are going to get hit. That is why you put on your armor and go out to battle.”
In the season opening loss to the Eagles, Griffin was 12-of-26 for 190 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. His rating was 55.0 and he was sacked three times. He also carried the ball five times for 37 yards.
Corey Coleman said he thinks Griffin can give the offense a much needed lift.
“I feel like he can help us out," Coleman said. "We all had a really good practice this week so we are excited to see and play. He is excited, too. He has done a hell of a job being the leader that he is and communicating and just making sure that he has not missed a beat since he left.”
Griffin said he is hoping to not only provide a spark for the offense, but deliver Jackson his first win as coach of the Browns.
“It is paramount," Griffin said. "I do not think – it is his former team, but I just think when you see Coach breakdown like that, as a player in this locker room it makes you – we already wanted to play hard for him, but it makes you want to play harder for him and win for him because he does not deserve to be 0-12. It is like I said, these guys in this locker room do not deserve to be 0-12. Talking about it is not going to do anything about it, but I think seeing that emotion from Coach lights a fire in everybody. We have to go out and prove it on Sunday.”
Kessler No. 2: Jackson said that QB Cody Kessler will be Griffin's backup on Sunday.
"Cody has played," Jackson said. "As I told you guys, I think he is fine from a medical standpoint, and I’d like to see him play some more as we move throughout the year. There is a possibility for that to happen. That is kind of the way I see it right now.”
Browns sign Elston, Kindred to NFI: The Browns have signed DB Trae Elston and placed DB Derrick Kindred (foot) on reserve/non-football injury (NFI).
In addition, the team signed DB Justin Currie to the practice squad.
Elston (5-11, 193) is a rookie out of Mississippi. Originally signed by New Orleans as an undrafted free agent, he has spent five weeks on Tampa Bay’s practice squad. A four-year starter at safety at Mississippi, he opened 44 of his 50 career games and totaled 252 tackles, 34 passes defensed, four interception, 11 tackles for loss, one sack, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
Kindred, a fourth-round pick this year, appeared in all 12 games with five starts. He logged 43 tackles and five passes defensed.
Currie (6-2, 212) is officially in his first NFL season out of Western Michigan. He was originally signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2015. At Western Michigan, Currie started 37 of his 47 games and totaled 339 tackles and five interceptions.
With the move of Kindred, the only players limited at practice were DB Jamar Taylor (groin) and OL Joe Thomas (knee).