BEREA: Even though Washington Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III appeared to suffer a nasty injury Sunday when Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata dived into his legs, the Browns still might face the quarterback that got away in March.
During a news conference Monday, coach Mike Shanahan said Griffin suffered a Grade 1 sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee and is “definitely not ruled out” for Sunday, when the Redskins (7-6) will visit the Browns (5-8). The Redskins hope Griffin can play, but they won’t use him “if we think he’s not completely healthy,” Shanahan said.
If Griffin doesn’t play, rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins will start. After Griffin was hurt late in the fourth quarter, Cousins threw a touchdown pass and ran for a two-point conversion to force overtime in the Redskins’ 31-28 win over the Ravens.
“We have to prepare for their offense, and they have some elements of option football,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “They have elements of drop-back pass. They’re an off-tackle, zone running team, and then they do have their wrinkles. So we have to prepare for all that. We cannot stop the preparation worrying about who’s going to play because I’m sure there’s elements of drop-back football and option game that both the quarterbacks that might play can execute.”
The Browns became familiar with both quarterbacks during the pre-draft process last spring. In March, they proposed a trade to the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft Griffin second overall but were outbid by the Redskins. In April, they hosted Cousins, a fourth-round pick, for a pre-draft visit. Of course, the Browns ultimately selected quarterback Brandon Weeden 22nd overall on April 26.
“There was no doubt in my mind that [Griffin] would be a success in this league,” Shurmur said. “It doesn’t surprise me, and I credit their coaching staff because they have incorporated things in their offense that utilize his skill and ability and I think that’s smart.
“I’ve really studied up on Cousins. Being he was a Michigan State guy, I knew a lot about him, of course. He was one of the most outstanding people you’re going to ever meet in the draft, and we liked him quite a bit. The fact he came in and had success did not surprise me.”
Defensive end Jabaal Sheard conceded it’s difficult to prepare not knowing which quarterback the Browns will face. He believes both present challenges.
“I saw a little bit of Cousins while he was in college,” Sheard said. “He comes from a winning program as well. He knows how to win. He has a great arm. RG3, he’s the man right now. He’s a great player and he plays hard and disciplined.”
The Browns signed rookie tight end/fullback Brad Smelley to their active roster and waived undrafted rookie defensive tackle Ronnie Cameron, the team announced Monday.
Smelley, a seventh-round pick in this year’s draft, spent the first 14 weeks of this season on the Browns’ practice squad. He played in four preseason games and compiled two receptions for 21 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown.
Cameron spent eight weeks on the Browns’ practice squad and five weeks on their active roster. He did not play in any regular-season games this year.
The Browns tallied five sacks Sunday in their 30-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. They’re tied for seventh in the league with 34 sacks, two more than they had last season.
Sheard attributes the improvement to the free-agent signings of veteran ends Frostee Rucker and Juqua Parker. Parker has a team-high five sacks. Rucker and Sheard have four apiece.
“We didn’t have a lot of older guys around the locker room that had knowledge of the game,” Sheard said. “[With] those guys coming from winning programs, they know what it takes.”
Down and dirty
Shurmur poked fun at Weeden for his awkward slide in the first quarter against the Chiefs.
“He took a chunk [of turf] out of there,” Shurmur said. “I thought they were going to stop the game and bring out a dump truck. Being a baseball player, I thought it would look a little easier.”
Shurmur said he doesn’t “worry about” rookie running back Trent Richardson averaging only 2.3 yards per carry Sunday. … Shurmur said wide receiver Greg Little played as well Sunday as he ever has. Little had four receptions for 69 yards and added a career-long run of 15 yards. … Chiefs standout wide receiver Dwayne Bowe broke multiple ribs in the first quarter against the Browns and will be placed on injured reserve, Pro Football Talk reported.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Browns blog at http://www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NateUlrichABJ and on Facebook www.facebook.com.browns.abj