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Ravens' Robert Griffin III Is Himself Again After a Year Out of the NFL

Robert Griffin III walked off the practice field Tuesday holding hands with his newish (married in March) wife and baby daughter.

During the quarterback's press conference with reporters, a teammate joked with him about buying some of his fancy socks for the rest of the team.

It's clear that after a sour ending in Washington, D.C., a year in Cleveland, then a year out of the NFL altogether, Griffin is loving life and football again. Griffin is back to being the same guy fans and media members fawned over in the 2012 NFL Draft and his magical rookie season.

"I don't think I can put into words how fun this whole process has been being here in Baltimore," Griffin said to begin his press conference Tuesday.

Now, as Griffin prepares for his first game since New Year's Day 2017 – 19 months ago – excitement has been added to the happiness. Thursday night's Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, with the entire nation watching, will be a rebirth of sorts for the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2-overall pick.

With Joe Flacco expected to sit Thursday, Griffin may get the start. He's currently listed ahead of Jackson on the depth chart and took reps with the second-string offense in Tuesday's practice.

How well Griffin leads the offense this preseason, with the Ravens and other teams watching, could go a long way in determining how long his comeback tour will last.

"I'm anxious to see him. Robert is healthy, he's throwing the ball strong, he's been very impressive," Quarterbacks Coach James Urban said. "Robert is a football player, and he loves football. That taste of not being around it for a season, he's hungry, and he's enjoying every moment."

"Being out of football gives you an appreciation that you thought you might have already had," Griffin added. "It's like someone taking your girl and then you miss her a little bit."

Since signing a one-year deal with the Ravens in early April, Griffin has done everything right. First and foremost, he's performed well on the field. He's been a model teammate who has taken rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson under his wing, even though Jackson's arrival could push him out of a job.

Griffin has brought the right mindset to the Under Armour Performance Center. He's said all the right things. Take, for example, Griffin's answer when asked whether he views Thursday night's game as a chance to prove to his doubters that he can still play.

"What those guys [in the locker room] think about me is more important to me than anybody on the outside thinks," he said. "I've learned that through the course of my career. You can hear the noise, but you have to block it out."

So does he view it as an audition for other NFL clubs? After all, Griffin's place on Baltimore's 53-man roster isn't guaranteed considering the team hasn't kept three quarterbacks since 2009 and Flacco and Jackson are locks.

"No, I don't think so," Griffin said. "For me, it's about doing what I can to help those guys in that locker room make plays on offense, and make sure we go out and execute everything the coaches are asking us to do. … I just want to go out there, show them they can trust me and help lead us to a win."

And why has Griffin gone out of his way to mentor Jackson? If the Ravens determine that Jackson would be ready to step in as the starter if Flacco were to get injured, then Griffin could find himself on the wrong side of Baltimore's roster bubble.

"You're not going to cheat a guy to beat a guy," Griffin said. "I'm not going to try to cheat you and not tell you something and not help you to try to win a spot. We're all about the team here – we're all about the Ravens."

Don't be mistaken, however. Griffin has been itching to show that he can still sling it.

He said it was a "really long process" when he was getting calls from teams last offseason who were interested, but not enough to sign him to a deal. The Ravens were one of them.

"Having to sit there as a 27-year-old knowing like, 'Man, I'm ready to go,'" Griffin said. "Now here I am as a 28-year-old, and because I stayed with it and had the right people in my corner to push me during the time when I was out of the league, I was blessed with this opportunity."

Griffin's wife, Grete Sadeiko, is an Estonian heptathlete. She's supposed to be overseas competing right now, but decided to stay in Baltimore during training camp to support Griffin. She and their baby daughter have been at practice every day to support Griffin. The quarterback called her his "backbone."

"I will return the favor – believe that," Griffin said.

"Anyone out there who's going through something, you just have to just look at that obstacle and never let it make you quit. You can be upset about it. It can feel like it's never going to end, but always make sure you push through because the people who don't quit are the ones who end up being successful."

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