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Thursday, November 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

NFL notes: RG3 front-runner for Browns’ starting quarterback job

Associated Press

He’s now RG4.3.

Trying to revive a once soaring career that crashed badly in Washington, quarterback Robert Griffin III believes he has a leg up – two of them actually – over the competition to win Cleveland’s starting job.

As the Browns prepared to open training camp Friday under first-year coach Hue Jackson, Griffin gave his assessment of the QB field.

“There’s only one of us that runs 4.3,” he joked, noting his blazing time in the 40-yard dash. “They like to race me a lot.”

Cleveland’s other quarterbacks may not catch him. They won’t have time.

Griffin is expected to beat out veterans Josh McCown, Austin Davis and rookie Cody Kessler for the top gig and become Cleveland’s 25th starting quarterback since 1999 – and the one the Browns hope finally pulls them from the NFL’s basement.

Griffin signed a two-year contract in March with the Browns, who are eager to see if the 26-year-old can recapture the magic he showed while electrifying the NFL as a rookie in 2012. While that was only four years ago, it seems like ages, and even Griffin isn’t entirely sure if he can get back to being the player he once was.

Hours before his first practice, Griffin was asked how to get his game back to its jaw-dropping rookie level.

“I just think you have fun,” he said. “It’s a kid’s game that we get to play for a king’s ransom. At the end of the day, you know what you’re doing. You’ve done your studying, you worked hard, you’ve run, you’ve lifted, all those things. Now you’ve just got to come out here and have fun. I think that’s the beauty of the game, the more fun you have the easier it is for you to play freely and go out and make plays.”

Jackson plans to name his starter before the team’s first exhibition game on Aug. 12 at Green Bay, giving the quarterbacks 11 practices or scrimmages – at most – to make an impression.

Griffin didn’t offer much of an opinion on Jackson’s timetable, while McCown, the 37-year-old who started eight games last season for Cleveland, believes it’s best to get such an impactful decision – and potential disruption – out of the way.

“I think it gives us a sense of direction and the way he’s headed,” McCown said. “The team and everyone can get behind the guy and move forward. We’re all supportive of that. I just think sometimes if it drags out and lingers it can be a distraction. You name a guy and move forward, and everybody gets behind that guy. I trust his leadership on that.”

Griffin took the majority of snaps with Cleveland’s starting offense on Friday, but Jackson said that was more because McCown doesn’t need as much work than any kind of pecking order.

The 6-foot-2 Griffin had a rather unspectacular workout. He showed good velocity on several throws over the middle, but he overthrew a couple deep balls and never left the pocket to showcase his running ability. McCown made some plays but will have to do more to overtake Griffin, still knocking off some rust after not playing last season.

Cruz back with Giants

Victor Cruz is back a lot sooner than anyone expected.

After missing all of last season and being limited to six games over the past two, the New York Giants receiver was a full-go as the team held its first practice at training camp under new coach Ben McAdoo.

With the Giants indoors because of overnight rain, the workout looked more like a slow-speed organized team activity.

Cruz didn’t seem to care. He participated in every drill. He caught passes. He worked at recovering fumbles, knocking off some of the rust. The nearby Paterson product didn’t show any signs of being limited either by his knee or the calf injury that plagued him last year.

“I was just happy to be out there with the guys,” said the 29-year-old Cruz.

The next step will be doing it in practice and then games.

Jaguars’ Lee injured again

Oft-injured receiver Marqise Lee stayed healthy for one day in training camp.

The Jacksonville Jaguars held Lee out of practice Friday with a left hamstring injury, the latest setback for a third-year pro who can’t seem to stay on the field.

Lee has missed significant time with ankle, hamstring and knee injuries. He practiced so little last summer that offensive coordinator Greg Olson said Lee was “like the albino tiger at the zoo. If you get there and you’re lucky enough to get him to come out of the cave and see him, it’s a good day.”

Lee embraced the nickname, but had hoped to make it part of his past and not a pattern. Now, he’s back on the sideline.

“It was very disappointing,” Lee said after practice Friday. “You never want to sit out. But it’s nothing crazy. That’s the biggest thing. I felt a little (hamstring) fatigue, and they decided to shut me down.”

Around the league

Cornerback Darius Slay signed a four-year extension with the Lions worth about $50 million, a deal that lasts through the 2020 season. The 25-year-old was heading into the fourth and final season of his rookie contract, and now Detroit doesn’t have to worry about losing him to free agency in 2017. … Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan has been reinstated by the NFL after sitting out last season for his latest violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. … Damien Wilson can be added to the list of freak accidents in the offseason for the Dallas Cowboys after the second-year linebacker injured an eye in a paintball accident. Wilson is joined on the non-football injury list by running back Darren McFadden, who broke his right elbow during Memorial Day weekend trying to save his cellphone when he dropped it.

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