Griffin III hopes to start anew as a backup QB with Ravens

Robert Griffin III
The Associated Press

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — After winning a Heisman Trophy, being picked second overall in the 2012 NFL draft and becoming an instant sensation with the Washington Redskins, Robert Griffin III is looking ahead to a promising future instead of wistfully gazing at his brilliant past.

Griffin agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Baltimore Ravens last week, fully aware his role will be to back up Joe Flacco. He’s fine with that, because RG3 is far more interested in where his career is going rather than where it’s been.

“It’s time to let that stuff go and move forward as a new player, a better player, a grown player,” Griffin said Wednesday at his introductory news conference. “That’s what I’m excited about, and I’m glad that they saw that in me and have given me this opportunity.”

Griffin was a star with Washington until a rash of injuries finally cost him his starting job. He missed the entire 2015 season after sustaining a concussion in the summer, and by then the Redskins were ready to move on without him.

Griffin latched on with Cleveland in 2016 as a free agent. He started the opener, sustained a shoulder injury and ended up playing in only five games.

Last year, he stayed in shape and watched NFL games on TV while waiting for a job offer that never came.

“Playing football in the NFL is not something that’s promised. So you have to make sure you stay ready,” Griffin said. “I kept the faith and made sure I did my part, so when God manifested the opportunity, I was ready for it.”

Looking trim and poised, wearing a white shirt and a deep blue suit (no tie, but with a pocket square), Griffin spoke excitedly about rekindling a career that once seemed destined to be remarkable. It may still turn out that way — he’s only 28 years old — but for now Griffin is playing behind a quarterback who’s missed six starts over a 10-year career.

“I knew coming into this situation that this is Joe’s team,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to learn from him. Whatever capacity the coaches ask me to help, that’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to compete. I’m here to get better every single day.”

Griffin’s most notable quality at Baylor, and during his rookie year with the Redskins, was his ability to make something happen when the pocket breaks down. He still intends to play that way, but with the understanding that staying healthy means avoiding an unnecessary hit.

“What has been bad for me in the past is protecting myself outside the pocket,” Griffin said. “It doesn’t mean I’m not going to run. It just means that when I do run, I’ll be smarter about it. I’ll slide earlier, get out of bounds when I have to. And then when it’s time to run for 70, I’ll run for 70.”

There’s no telling whether he will get the chance, but at least Griffin is back in the NFL. And that sure beats what he went through last year.

“Whenever you face adversity, a couple of things can happen: You can crumble, get mad, be upset about it, or it can make you work harder,” Griffin said. “You have to make sure you keep pushing through, keep doing what you know is going to help you get where you want to be. And that’s kind of what my focus was.”

Griffin impressed the Ravens in a workout last month, and after he agreed to terms, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh exclaimed, “I feel like we got a steal.”

Griffin believes Harbaugh, general manager Ozzie Newsome and everyone else at that audition liked his attitude as much as his passing ability.

“What they echoed to me was that they were impressed at how prepared I was for the opportunity, how eager I was to come in and just prove it to them,” Griffin said, “as opposed to relying on the merits of what I’d done in the league before.”

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