NFL

NFL AM: Robert Griffin III Named Browns Starting Quarterback

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RG3 Wins the Job

When the Cleveland Browns signed Robert Griffin, III in free agency and then avoided to select any quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft, it sent a pretty clear signal that the former Washington Redskins franchise QB had the inside track to be new head coach Hue Jackson’s signal caller.

On Monday it was made official as RG3 was named the starter.

“It’s time. Robert has earned the right to be named the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns,” head coach Hue Jackson said in comments distributed by the team. “Since he was signed back in March, Robert has made it clear through his actions that he is willing to do everything that has been asked of him to earn this role. Throughout this process he has gained the respect from his teammates, the coaching staff and the entire organization that is necessary for him to lead our offense and really the entire team.”

How fair was this quarterback competition?  Who knows?  Incumbent starter Josh McCown had a nice 2015 season that was shortened by injury, but it certainly hurt his case when Mike Pettine was fired and Jackson was hired as the new head coach.

The prospects of Griffin’s success seem better now than when he signed during the spring, as wide receiver Josh Gordon was reinstated by the NFL and the Browns will likely have him for the final 12 games of the regular season (after he faces his four-game suspension).

Another player who could help Griffin is quarterback turned wide receiver and local hero Terrelle Pryor. The former Ohio State Buckeye has had a solid training camp and found himself as a starter on the initial depth chart of the season.

“He’s done a tremendous job,” Jackson said. “There are a lot of guys that I can say that about, but he’s definitely one. He has taken this opportunity and he is trying to make the most of it.”

Jackson and Pryor were together in Cincinnati and it ended up with the former quarterback being waived.

“I didn’t have enough confidence to ask him to change positions,” Jackson said. “And that’s why we let him go — to be honest with you — because I felt like he needed to make a decision about what he needed to do.”

The transition to wide receiver is a work in progress, but Pryor seems to be making the most of his opportunity.

“It’s just putting my head down and grinding, and watching other people do great things and watching some of the greats do it and watching the film on greats,” Pryor said. “I like watching great talent guys like Josh Gordon, Randy Moss. Guys like that, I like to put a little stuff in my basket and use it and do what I can do.”

Add in tight end Gary Barnidge, who caught nine touchdowns to go with over 1,000 receiving yards last season and Griffin’s targets look formidable at the very least.

Where does this leave McCown?

He was always going to be the odd man out and he has a very friendly contract which makes him a prime trade target for a team like Dallas or Minnesota.  McCown is due $4.375 million this season and just $3.6 million next season, which is a nice contract for a more than serviceable veteran backup quarterback.

Lions, Bills and Bears Suffer Injuries

Many feared the worst when Detroit Lions former first-round pick Eric Ebron went down over the weekend in what was initially reported as an Achilles injury.

Shortly thereafter, Ebron posted a video from the basketball court in which he wasn’t playing, but he was standing around which was a better sign.

The team is exercising their proverbial “5th Amendment” rights regarding Ebron’s status.

“We do (have an update),” head coach Jim Caldwell said, “but we don’t discuss those things.”

On Monday, Ebron’s injury was reported as a high ankle sprain.

It’s unclear whether or not Ebron will be available to Detroit when they take on the Indianapolis Colts in their season opener.

The news in Buffalo appears to be a little more bleak regarding rookie linebacker Reggie Ragland’s knee injury.

“I’m not real sure [about ligament damage],” Bills head coach Rex Ryan said. “I guess I was just so hopeful there’s not going to be ligament things. My understanding is that as you get going, your leg is so tight, they’ll fight it. You don’t really get a true look of that. So as we mentioned, we got to wait for that swelling to go down.

“I know every Bill fan out there is hoping for the best, and that’s certainly what we’re doing, but there is concern.”

Numerous reports are stating that Ragland has a partially torn ACL and he could miss the entire 2016 season.

In the meantime, the Bills signed former Pats and Bills linebacker Brandon Spikes to try and fill the gap. Spikes played well in Buffalo in 2014 before signing with the Patriots last year.  He was released after a hit and run incident.

Finally, the news in Chicago is negative about starting center Hroniss Grasu, who tore his ACL and will miss the 2016 season.

“That was a tough one,” quarterback Jay Cutler said after Monday’s practice. “I’ve played with a lot of guys, and he’s one of my favorites, even in a short amount of time. I had a hard time with that one yesterday, getting over that. I think guys are probably still feeling the effects a little bit today.

“He’s so selfless. He’s everything you talk about when you talk about a team guy. Kind of the core of the offensive line. I dealt with him on a day-to-day basis. He worked so hard to get to this point, and you’re expecting great things from him. Then, unfortunately, things like this happen. We’ve got to move on. He’s still going to be around, I’m sure, and be part of the team, but we’ve got to find somebody to fill his shoes.”

At this point, veteran journeyman Ted Larsen is the next man up for Chicago.  Although Larsen is a certain step down from Grasu, he’s a serviceable veteran who is better than anything the team will be able to find this late in the offseason.

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.