Robert Griffin III will miss practice “for at least a few weeks,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Sunday, one day after the backup quarterback said he hurt the thumb on his right (throwing) hand.
Harbaugh said in a statement that Griffin fractured a bone in his right hand. ESPN reported Saturday night that Griffin suffered a hairline fracture in the thumb and is expected to miss four to eight weeks, which could threaten his availability for the regular season’s opening weeks.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said Sunday that it’s his “understanding” that the organization is looking to add another quarterback to the 90-man roster. Only two quarterbacks, starter Lamar Jackson and rookie Trace McSorley, were full participants in practice Sunday, a rarity across NFL training camps. Griffin was dressed but did not throw.
“I think the first thing is, it’s a great opportunity for Trace.” Roman said. “Unfortunate, but great opportunity for him to get more reps and experience.”
Griffin said he hit his hand on the helmet of an onrushing defender Saturday. Replays showed Griffin hitting outside linebacker Tim Williams as he followed through on a pass late in practice. Williams embraced Griffin immediately after the throw, seemingly out of concern. “Guess that’s why they tell them to stay away from us” during practice, Griffin said of the play.
Griffin re-signed with the Ravens in March on a two-year deal, a remarkable career turnaround after spending the 2017 season out of the NFL. The 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year signed a prove-it contract with the Ravens last offseason, and his inclusion on the team’s season-opening 53-man roster surprised many accustomed to two-quarterback rosters in Baltimore.
While Griffin had only modest stats — in three appearances, he was 2-for-6 for 21 passing yards and didn’t have a carry — his skill set as a dual-threat quarterback makes him a good fit for coordinator Greg Roman’s offense. Throughout offseason workouts and the first three days of training camp, he had impressed with his command of the offense and efficient passing.
“I was having a great camp, felt good," Griffin said Saturday, after an emotional meeting with his wife on the sideline. "I’m really excited about what we’re going to be able to do this year.”
His injury came as a shock to Jackson. Asked after Saturday’s practice whether he was concerned about Griffin’s health, he started to answer before stopping briefly to compose himself. “Definitely,” he said. “That’s my brother.”
The first significant injury of training camp has a more direct impact on McSorley. Before last year, the Ravens had gone nearly a decade without keeping three quarterbacks on their Week 1 roster. Because of McSorley’s potential as a special teams weapon, the sixth-round pick faced an easier path to the roster, but his job was far from secure.
Now, with Griffin’s injury possibly keeping him out for most, if not all, of the preseason, McSorley will become the Ravens’ de facto No. 2 option under center. He received a majority of the snaps Sunday.
“I think Trace really got his reps bumped up, so that’s a good opportunity for him to get some great experience," Roman said. "There’s nothing like reps. You get better at football by playing football. He’s got a lot to look at today and reflect on.”
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The former Penn State star has noticeably improved since offseason workouts and, like Jackson and Griffin, has the quickness to handle the zone-read responsibilities essential to the Ravens’ run game. As a passer, he hasn’t thrown an interception during training camp, and his 6-foot frame hasn’t appeared to limit him.
“Trace is doing a really good job,” Roman said. “Trace is very thorough, diligent. He’s got a very mathematical mind. He can really take a lot of information in and process it. I think that’s what a mathematical mind is, but he’s very impressive in that way. Very [good] attention to detail, and we really like what we’re seeing.”
McSorley said he spends every night reviewing each play he was involved in from that day of practice, and even the ones he wasn’t. The Ravens’ verbiage on offense differs from what he mastered in college, but even a total grasp of the playbook can lead to mixed results.
Not only does he need to know what routes his receivers run on each play, he said, but also how they run their routes.
“I think it’s real important just to able to get in and get the reps,” he said Sunday. “You can go through everything on paper, but it’s different once you’re in there and experienced. So I think being able to get these reps and still try to learn as much as I can from RG — you never hope this, you never wish it on anything, but it’s an opportunity. So just to be able to get in and get these reps, I think, is big and really important.”
McSorley has more to learn than the average rookie quarterback. In addition to his reps under center, he said he’ll continue to cross-train on special teams, where he’s already worked as a blocker on kickoff returns. Asked Sunday about whether he’ll still have to devote the same kind of time to special teams, he grinned.
“That doesn’t change,” he said.