BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Robert Griffin III has been cleared by doctors to play again this season. RG3 still needs Browns coach Hue Jackson’s blessing.
Griffin passed a final medical test on his injured left shoulder and can now take full contact, paving the way for the quarterback to play on Dec. 11 when the winless Browns return from a bye week against Cincinnati.
Griffin hasn’t played since the season opener — his debut for Cleveland — when he broke a bone in his shoulder while scrambling in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Beyond blessed to have an opportunity to get back on the field with my brothers,” Griffin said Tuesday. “I promise my teammates and coaches to give them everything I have as we work to finish the season strong.”
It’s been a long wait for Griffin, who signed with the Browns hoping to revive his career. Instead, he got hurt again, adding credence to the argument that he’s not durable and opening the Browns to criticism for passing on a chance to get a top QB in the draft.
Griffin can change that narrative over Cleveland’s final four games, but Jackson isn’t quite ready to turn his offense back over to the 26-year-old.
“Robert is cleared, and he is ready to go, and I will make a decision about which way we are going as we go through the week,” Jackson said.
“Just because he is cleared does not mean we are just going to walk back out there and play. There is still practice and there are still things we need to do and see before I decide to stick him back out there.”
Despite Jackson’s stance, it appears Griffin will be back behind center against the Bengals and in Cleveland’s other three games.
The Browns (0-12) want to avoid becoming the second team in NFL history to go 0-16 and Griffin may give them the best chance to win.
Jackson’s other choices are rookie Cody Kessler, who is 0-8 as a starter this season and just returned from his second concussion, or 37-year-old Josh McCown, who has been pounded behind a revamped offensive line, which just lost starting right guard John Greco with a foot injury.
Griffin, who recently returned to practice, was selected as the starter in training camp after the Browns signed him to a two-year, $15 million contract in March.
Although he got hurt and then lost his job in Washington, the Browns viewed Griffin as possibly their long-term solution at quarterback. His injury in the opener delayed the team’s evaluation process, but the Browns may have a four-game window to see if Griffin can be their future.
“I am always looking to see who is going to be on the team as we move forward every game we play,” Jackson said, adding the bye came at a good time to give Griffin more time.
“We are still evaluating our team, too, as we go through it at this point where we are. So yeah, we are looking. If he plays quarterback, yeah, we are evaluating him to see if he can be the quarterback. No different than Cody, Josh or (QB) Kevin (Hogan). All those guys, if they play, they are being evaluated.”
Jackson said he’ll consider several factors before choosing a quarterback, including Griffin’s injury history.
“You have to throw everything in the pot and then make a decision,” he said. “But the guy has played, what, amounts to four quarters, not even a whole four quarters for this football team in a regular-season game? If we put him back out there, there will be a chance for him to go back out there and play, and if we don’t, we don’t.”
Notes: Jackson has given his players off until Monday, but before they left he reminded them to behave while they’re away. “I am not going to put up with any foolishness when guys leave here,” he said. To that end, the Browns invited former NBA star guard Chauncey Billups to speak before practice. Jackson said Billups delivered a positive message about perseverance.