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Browns QB Robert Griffin III takes all the first-team snaps, says his job is to make starter decision easy for coach Hue Jackson

BEREA — Robert Griffin III walked into the huddle Friday and saw left tackle Joe Thomas, left guard Joel Bitonio, running back Isaiah Crowell and receiver Andrew Hawkins. The first snap of the first team drill on the first day of training camp featured Griffin at quarterback.
So did the second, third, fourth and so on. Griffin received all of the snaps with the starters as coach Hue Jackson kicked off his first training camp with the Browns.
Jackson plans to name a starting quarterback for the regular season before the first preseason game Aug. 12 in Green Bay, and the rest of the quarterbacks seem unlikely to catch Griffin in the sprint to the deadline.
“Obviously there’s only one of us that runs 4.3,” Griffin, 26, said with a smile before practice.
He said his focus is on the process, not the result.
“All you can do is come out here and show the gifts that God has blessed you with and continue to work hard every day,” he said. “I think everyone is coming out here knowing that nothing is guaranteed, you gotta go out and you gotta put in the work.
“At the end of the day you don’t worry about what you can’t control. Coach has decisions that he has to make and your job is to make that decision easy for him.”
Veteran Josh McCown, rookie third-round pick Cody Kessler and journeyman Austin Davis followed Griffin in the rotation. McCown, 37, is considered the most legitimate competition for the starting job after posting a 93.3 rating (12 touchdowns, four interceptions) last year and becoming a fast favorite of teammates and executives in his first year in Cleveland.
McCown believes a quick decision on the starter is best for the team.
“It gives us a sense of direction,” McCown said. “The team and everyone can get behind the guy and move forward. Sometimes if it drags out and lingers it can be a distraction.
“It is what’s best for the team. He’ll make a wise decision and we’ll move forward.”
Jackson said McCown’s experience allows the coaches to divvy up some of his reps.
“The younger guys need to get the lion’s share,” Jackson said. “I don’t think Josh needs to take a ton of reps. I think he knows how to do it and what to do. It’s one of the luxuries we have.”
Speed isn’t the only separator for Griffin but it is a difference-maker. He rushed for 815 yards in 2012, a rookie quarterback record, and should allow Jackson to use a few more pages from his thick playbook.
Jackson said there’s “no question” Griffin’s the same athlete he was as a rookie and that the Browns need him to run like he did then.
“Oh, yeah. One of those times it’s going to happen and we want to see him go get one,” Jackson said. “I know people have questioned where he is physically. I don’t see that. He’s still Robert Griffin. The same guy that came out in 2012, but just wiser.”
Griffin also has a strong right arm that can make all the throws, and the confidence of a Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 pick in the draft. He wasn’t deterred by an up-and-down offseason that continued Friday with a mix of completions and misfires.
“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’ll continue to do 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.
“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.”
Griffin was praising the quarterback group when the college sprinter dropped in the line about running a 4.3-second 40-yard dash. Kessler returned the compliment.
“He really is a pro,” Kessler said. “The way he does things, the way he talks about everything, he has a real professional vibe to him.
“He cares about the game. He cares about the position. It’s been great for me to learn from him. He’s been a teammate, a friend, someone who’s helped me out as almost a mentor.”
Kessler, who spent part of the summer alongside Griffin in California with quarterback guru Tom House, knows where he fits in the camp competition.
“I’m the rookie, so I’m the guy who’s learning from these older guys,” he said. “But at the same time, I want to compete.”
When the Browns signed Griffin to a two-year, $15 million deal in March, the assumption was McCown would be traded or cut. Those are still options, but he’s here and hopes to stick around even if he’s not the starter.
“Obviously this is the time of year where across 32 teams all of us are coming to camp to make a ball team,” he said. “That’s my mindset and I’m going to do everything I can to help this team and to be ready to make this ball team.”
Griffin appears in line to be named the 25th starter since the Browns returned in 1999, and cornerback Joe Haden is good with that.
“The thing I like about Robert the most is he’s hungry,” Haden said. “He’s super hungry. You could tell in everything that he said, everything he does, that he just wants to work. He wants to be part of a team. He wants to build relationships with all of the players.
“I could just tell he’s a team-first guy, and that’s what I really, really love about him.”
Griffin has no plans to change his approach whenever Jackson makes his decision.
“You come out here every day having to work to be the guy, to be the best,” he said. “So even when they name the starter you still have to come out here and work and prove it every single day. So nothing’s ever going to be given to you.
“So, yeah, it feels good to know that you’ve done the work to make Coach believe in you, make the team believe in you, but you’ve still got to come out here every day and show it.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or [email protected] Like him on Facebook and follow him @scottpetrak on Twitter.

Browns writer for The Chronicle-Telegram and The Medina Gazette. Proud graduate of Northwestern University. Husband and stepdad. Avid golfer who needs to hit the range to get down to a single-digit handicap. Right about Johnny Manziel, wrong about Brandon Weeden. Contact Scott at 440-329-7253, or email and follow him on and Twitter.

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