Reporting Daryl Ruiter
BEREA (92.3 The Fan) - The Cleveland Browns expect to see Robert Griffin III Sunday.
And that is who they are preparing for this week at practice.
“We fully anticipate that he’ll play,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “We’re preparing for RG3 to be out there.”
Coach Pat Shurmur was asked if he was buying into all the reports coming out of Washington this week abut Griffin being ‘limited.’
“No, because I see how I do things around here,” Shurmur said. “Number one. You guys [the media] have got a really tight net, but every once in a while some stuff slips through. I don’t know what to think.
“I saw you guys yesterday, you had to look into the sun to see who was out there. When you’re squinting sometimes you might miss a number.”
The challenge for Shurmur and Jauron this week is to find a way for their defense to contain Griffin.
“Every week in our league, we’re playing gifted athletes,” Jauron said. “He just happens to be significantly more talented than most. We have to play as fast as we can possibly play. Otherwise we have not chance at all.”
Safety T.J. Ward has a solution – make Griffin pay for leaving the pocket.
“If you let him run and don’t hit him, then he’s going to continue to run without fear,” Ward said. “You’ve got to let him know that there’s going to be consequences for leaving the pocket and trying to run down field.”
Veteran defensive end Juqua Parker is wary of Griffin’s speed and mobility.
“Hopefully we can contain the man,” Parker said. “He’s very fast. He’s very athletic. He’s a smart guy. He knows what he’s doing. He’s all around.”
Shurmur isn’t surprised that Griffin, who continues to be listed as “limited” on the injury report, has been able to bounce back so quickly following what appeared to be a gruesome injury.
“We’ve all seen it before where you see something that looks devastating on the field, you say, ‘My gosh,’ and then they are out there playing,” Shurmur said. “Then there’s other times when you see something that looks extremely harmless where it’s a major injury. Our eyes can deceive us sometimes. You’re talking about a guy that’s a highly conditioned, very limber guy. I’m not going to try to predict on this. I think it’s a waste of good thought.”
Playoffs?!?!: After an 0-5 start, the Browns find themselves 3 wins away from having a legitimate shot at, gasp, the playoffs.
It has a lot of players smiling – especially kicker Phil Dawson who has seen the Browns mathematically eliminated in early November almost annually since 1999.
“To even have the conversation about winning a football game rather than stuff happening outside this building is refreshing,” Dawson said. “We all know what situation we’re in. We don’t have to say the word to know that it’s there. There’s an excitement and kind of an undercurrent of anticipation that hasn’t been here in a long time.”
Even if the Browns were to win out, a lot of dominoes need to fall in front of them to sneak in.
“Anything can happen,” Parker said. “When I was in Philly, we were going through the same thing. We had to have all types of things to happen, but they all happened and we made it to the playoffs. The sky is the limit.”
The locker room has been extremely loose and upbeat this week. 5 wins in 8 weeks will do that for a team and the networks have noticed by including the Browns in their ‘in the hunt’ graphics.
“We’ve talked about it, but we have to win first,” running back Montario Hardesty said. “We just have to go out and win on Sunday. Our focus right now is to win. There’s too many things in front of us that have to happen for that to happen so we can’t control some of those things. We just need to go out and win on Sunday.”
Hindsight Is 20/20: Shurmur admitted Thursday that if he could go back and do it all over again, he would’ve hired an offensive coordinator for his first season in Cleveland.
“One of the things I would have done differently is last year I would have hired an offensive coordinator, which would have made my staff complete a year ago,” Shurmur said. “Now, it’s important when you hire coordinators, you hire guys you trust.”
Shurmur is proud of the coaching staff that he has been able to put together in his first 2 years led by both of his coordinators – Brad Childress and Jauron.
“When I got this job, the first phone call I made was to Philadelphia to see if Dick [Jauron] was available because I knew he was coaching on the staff,” Shurmur said. “I asked Andy [Reid] and when that became the case, then I was fortunately able to hire him, and so on and so forth with all the guys.”
Been There Done That: Childress isn’t in a hurry to return to the sidelines as an NFL head coach but he didn’t rule it out when asked if he’d be interested Thursday.
“If the timing’s right, if the people are right, that’d be great,” Childress said. “If not, I can say been there, done that.”
Injury Report: Limited – WR josh Cribbs (knee), DE Juqua Parker (knee) and LT Joe Thomas (back).
Full Participation – WR Travis Benjamin (finger), RB Montario Hardesty (knee), RB Trent Richardson (chest/ribs/finger), LB James-Michael Johnson (thigh/finger), RG Shaun Lauvao (foot) and Frostee Rucker (shoulder).