OWINGS MILLS, MARYLAND – Robert Griffin III rolled to his right and threw a tight spiral down the middle of the field to a receiver that was being closely covered by a pair of defenders.
Several plays later, he dropped back and launched a 50-yard pass to a receiver running down the far sideline.
Griffin is quietly making a comeback as a backup quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens.
Though starter Joe Flacco and rookie Lamar Jackson have received most of the attention at training camp, Griffin hopes to make some noise at the annual Hall of Fame game against the Chicago Bears on Thursday night. It will be his first taste of NFL action since 2016.
“I’m very excited,” Griffin said. “I don’t think I can put into words how fun this whole process has been, being here in Baltimore and just having the opportunity to grow with this team. I just want to go out there and show they can trust me and hopefully lead us to a win.”
Griffin won the Heisman Trophy as a junior at Baylor and was the second overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Washington Redskins. He was the NFL’s rookie of the year before his career was derailed by injuries.
Griffin missed the 2015 season after sustaining a concussion during the preseason. After being released by Washington, he signed with the Browns in 2016. He started the regular-season opener, but sustained a shoulder injury. Griffin was able to play the final four weeks and was the starting quarterback the last time the Browns won a game, beating San Diego on Dec. 24, 2016.
He did not play football last year, but stayed in shape by training at the University of Central Florida. Griffin said he also spent hours watching film, studying the defense of various NFL teams.
“He has street credibility immediately,” Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban said. “He loves football and had the taste of not being around it for awhile, so he’s hungry and enjoying every moment. We talk all of the time: control what you can control and when the opportunity comes, you take advantage of it.”
Griffin, 28, worked out with the Ravens a few months prior to the NFL Draft. He performed well enough to earn a one-year deal reportedly worth $1 million with a $100,000 signing bonus. So far, Ravens coach John Harbaugh is confident the team made the correct decision.
“I think it’s been great having Robert here. He’s a very talented pro,” Harbaugh said. “He’s a top pick in the draft, so he has talent. He’s healthy for the first time in quite a few years.”
Griffin is fully aware that any role with the team will be serving as a backup to Flacco. The biggest question now is whether the Ravens will carry three quarterbacks into the regular season.
“It will be a tough decision,” Harbaugh said. “Any time you keep any one player at one position as extra, it’s one less player at another position you decide to lose. I’m not even thinking about that right now. We’ll let that happen when the time comes.”