BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Robert Griffin III healed much faster than doctors thought.
Now, if he can just mend the 0-12 Browns.
Told earlier this season that it was “highly unlikely” he would be able to play again in 2016 after breaking a bone in his left shoulder late in the Sept. 11 opener at Philadelphia, Griffin practiced Monday as the winless Browns returned from their bye and he could start Sunday when they host the Cincinnati Bengals.
“It’s all falling the right way for me,” RG3 said.
But while Griffin believes he’s ready to return to the field, Browns coach Hue Jackson, who has been forced to shuffle quarterbacks in and out of his lineup all season because of injuries, isn’t quite set to put him back behind center.
“It is too soon,” said Jackson, who has Griffin, Josh McCown and rookie Cody Kessler all at his disposal for the first time since Week 1. “I will let you know that. We were out there for an hour so we were just knocking off the rust from being gone. We have to get game preparations this week, and I will know more then.”
Griffin is staying patient. But after being unable to help his teammates during the worst stretch in franchise history, it’s understandable that he’s eager to learn his fate.
“Coach could wait until Sunday,” Griffin said. “That’s why he’s got the HC on his hat and we all trust him in this locker room. I trust him, and it’s just a matter of do they feel I’m ready to play or do they feel like I need to take some more time. So whatever their decision is, I’ll be OK with it because I’m here to be a Cleveland Brown.
“I’m here to help this team, not just these last four weeks but into the future. At least that’s my hope and my wish, so I just want to have an opportunity to go out there and put it on the line for my team.”
Jackson said there are several factors to consider before playing Griffin, including the fact that the Browns have given up a league-high 45 sacks. Cleveland has lost two starting guards to foot injuries and struggled to protect the quarterback.
Griffin said he’s not unnerved about playing behind an injury-ravaged line.
“Because I know those guys up front are fighting their tails off and it’s not just on them, it’s on all of us,” he said. “We gotta just execute better, get guys in the right spots, make the right calls. It’s a team effort. It’s not about one guy or two guys or a unit, it’s all of us together and we’ve got to make sure that we do a better job.”
Griffin revealed that doctors weren’t convinced he’d be back this season, but he made it.
“It’s just the best-case scenario happened,” he said.
Not only did Griffin’s injury derail his comeback season and raise more questions about the QB’s durability, it sent the Browns into a tailspin that hasn’t stopped.
With dozens of inexperienced players, this figured to be a rough season for Cleveland, but it’s been much worse and could finish with the Browns becoming the second team in NFL history to go 0-16.
While recovering, Griffin stayed engaged in team activities, attending meetings and helping with game plans. He and his teammates have allowed themselves to think about how things could have been different if he didn’t get hurt.
“No doubt,” he said. “I’ve gotten that from a lot of guys in the locker room and coaches, too, just the possibility of what could have been. But right now we’ve got four weeks ahead of us with an opportunity to do something about it. Cincinnati is the first team up to bat, and they could be the only team. I don’t know. The world could end tomorrow.
“So we’ve just got to take it one day at a time and try to make sure you do all the things that you can to put your best foot forward. Other than that, it’s been a tough time, been a tough year for this team, but these guys are tough. This is a really tough group and they’ve stuck together. So I’m proud to be a part of that.”
NOTES: Jackson said rookie starting safety Derrick Kindred has “a foot issue.”… The Browns will be permitted to wear customized cleats this week as part of the league’s “My Cleats, My Cause” campaign. Initially, the NFL said the Titans and Browns would not take part following their bye weeks.