Robert Griffin III is a backup quarterback who maintains a starter's mindset.
Preparing for his third season with the Ravens, Griffin has been grinding to stay sharp as he looks forward to the beginning of training camp. This week he's been working out in Dallas, participating in player-organized throwing sessions with teammates Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Antoine Wesley.
Duvernay and Proche are rookies while Wesley is entering his second season – young receivers hungry to make their name in the NFL. But Griffin is just as hungry. Playing behind league MVP Lamar Jackson doesn't give Griffin a realistic chance to start with the Ravens. But at some point, Griffin is convinced he'll be a starter again – and a successful one.
"It's the last year of my contract," Griffin said during a telephone interview. "I don't know what the future holds. I still believe I can play at a starter's level in this league. I just continue to go out there and prepare as if I am the starter."
Griffin said his work with the young receivers has been productive, and he believes the sessions will help Duvernay and Proche, two rookies who want to be up to speed once training camp starts. It's obvious Duvernay and Proche are both willing to put in extra work. Proche was also in Florida last week to work with Jackson.
"They look great," Griffin said. "Duvernay is a guy who almost went to Baylor so I know a little bit about him. He's a tough kid, fast, great hands. Proche has strong hands too, and they both get in and out of their breaks. They'll both be good for the wide receiver room and there's going to be a lot of competition."
During his two seasons with the Ravens, Griffin has raised his NFL stock much higher. He spent an entire 2017 season out of the league and some people felt his career was over. But he earned his way onto Baltimore's roster in 2018 as a third-string quarterback behind Joe Flacco and Jackson. It was the first time the Ravens kept three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster since 2009. The odds were against Griffin, but he turned them in his favor.
Griffin returned last season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Jackson, and the Ravens kept a third quarterback again in rookie Trace McSorley. Along with Jackson, Griffin and McSorley sharing reps during training camp this year, the Ravens have also signed talented undrafted rookie quarterback Tyler Huntley of Utah.
However, Griffin is the most veteran quarterback on the roster and his mobility and comfort with Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman's system makes him well-suited to be Jackson's primary backup. Griffin is counted on to stay ready in case something happens to Jackson. Having a reliable backup quarterback can make the difference between making the playoffs or not once the starter goes down.
In two seasons with the Ravens, Griffin's lone start came in Week 17 last year when Baltimore had already locked up the No. 1 playoff seed. Griffin completed 11 of 21 passes for 96 yards and threw one interception during a 28-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, who were playing all their starters and had a top-flight defense. Griffin and the offense played without several starters.
It was the first time Griffin had started a game since 2016 with the Cleveland Browns, another chapter in a journey that has taken the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner through the highs and lows of being an NFL quarterback. Griffin was the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year and led the Washington Redskins to the playoffs. However, his career was derailed by injuries and he eventually lost his starting job to Kirk Cousins before the Redskins released him following the 2015 season.
Griffin loves the relationships he has built with the Ravens over the past two seasons, and Baltimore will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender again in 2020. There's plenty to keep Griffin motivated and he'll continue to view himself as a starting quarterback who just happens to be Jackson's backup.
"I believe in myself, and I feel the Ravens believe in me as well," Griffin said. "When camp starts, I'll be ready to roll."