By Tom Withers
AP Sports Writer
BEREA, Ohio — 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 the timetable, while McCown, the 37-year-old who started eight games last season, believes it’s best for Jackson to get such a big decision out of the way.
“I think it gives us a sense of direction and the way he’s headed,” he said. “The team and everyone can get behind the guy and move forward. I think 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. I’m in favor of that. It is what’s best for the team. He’ll make a wise decision and we’ll move forward.”