By Hayden Grove
CLEVELAND — Despite spending an entire season on Washington’s bench, Robert Griffin III never doubted he’d be a starter again.
His belief became reality Monday, when coach Hue Jackson said “it’s time” to give Griffin the opportunity to lead the Cleveland Browns on the field.
“As long as you don’t give up and you keep working, you’ll get another opportunity,” Griffin said.
Jackson, who chose RG3 following a weekend in which the 26-year-old helped Cleveland’s first-team offense in successful scrimmages, has lofty standards that Griffin will need to meet in order to keep the job.
“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,” Jackson said, adding, “We expect him to continue to ascend as he becomes more and more acclimated to the offensive system we will employ this season.”
Griffin beat out Josh McCown for the starting spot, leaving the 37-year-old’s future with the Browns in doubt.
“It’s an honor to be one of 32 in this league,” Griffin said. “When you get (an opportunity), you got to seize it.”
Griffin signed a two-year, $15 million free agent contract in March and has taken the majority of first-team reps during the Browns’ organized team activities and training camp. The fifth-year quarterback completed three long passes to rookie Corey Coleman in the team’s Friday scrimmage, including a deep touchdown toss that impressed veteran cornerback Tramon Williams.
“Some of the balls that he threw today, the location that he put them at, it was amazing,” Williams said Friday. “I told him, I said, ‘Man, if you throwing the ball like that … you’re going to throw a lot of touchdowns this year.’”
In Saturday’s no-pads scrimmage at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, the Baylor product tossed two touchdown passes to receiver Terrelle Pryor.
The Browns’ first preseason game is on Friday at Green Bay.
Though he may not be long for Cleveland, McCown felt he got a fair chance in the competition, despite the lack of first-team reps.
“Not in any way or shape do I think it was unfair.” McCown said. “I think it was exactly how it needed to be for them to fairly evaluate things and I trust their judgment.”
McCown, who started eight games for Cleveland in 2015 before breaking his collarbone, is reportedly a top trade target for the Dallas Cowboys, who are in need of a replacement backup quarterback after Kellen Moore broke his right ankle last week. McCown said that the Browns have been open with him about trade discussions and said that everyone is on “the same page.”
Griffin has the starting QB job for the first time since 2014, when he played for the Redskins. He did not take a snap for the Washington in 2015 and was released March 7.
He was selected by the Redskins second overall in the 2012 NFL Draft, and won the Rookie of the Year and led Washington to a 10-6 record. Over his first four seasons, Griffin started 35 games, throwing for 8,097 yards and 40 touchdowns with 23 interceptions.
Griffin is set to be the 25th starting quarterback for the Browns since 1999.
NOTES: CB Joe Haden (ankle) was activated from the physically unable to perform list and returned to practice Monday. Following offseason ankle surgery, Haden participated only during individual drills and did not play in the team portions of practice. … C Cam Erving (elbow), FB Malcolm Johnson (concussion) and TE Randall Telfer also returned to practice Monday. … WR Josh Gordon (quad), WR Corey Coleman (hamstring), WR Andrew Hawkins (hamstring) and TE Seth DeValve (hamstring) were held out of practice. … DL John Hughes (personal) was excused from his fifth consecutive practice by Jackson, who said the personal situation will remain private for now.