BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Robert Griffin III’s comeback cracked.
Cleveland’s quarterback curse strikes again.
Griffin broke a bone in his left shoulder during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 29-10 loss at Philadelphia and will miss at least eight games — and potentially the season — with an injury that leaves the Browns’ muddled QB situation as jumbled as ever.
Cleveland Browns’ Robert Griffin III in action during the second half of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
The franchise’s 25th starting quarterback since 1999, Griffin, who signed with the Browns as a free agent in March in hopes of reviving a career that fizzled in Washington, got hurt while trying to run out of bounds.
Griffin was nearing the sideline when he was struck by Eagles rookie defensive back Jalen Mills, who delivered a blow to the QB’s chest area.
“It’s football and these things happen,” Browns first-year coach Hue Jackson said. “It’s unfortunate but it does happen in this sport.”
But it seems to happen at an inordinate rate to the Browns, who have been unable to find any stability at the game’s most important position for nearly two decades.
Griffin stayed in the game, but an MRI on Monday revealed that he broke the coracoid bone in his shoulder.
Griffin, who sustained a serious knee injury at the end of his rookie season with the Redskins, does not need surgery at this time and will be evaluated in 3 to 4 weeks.
The Browns placed Griffin on injured reserve — under new NFL rules he can brought off the list — and he could return at some point in 2016.
But there’s no guarantee that will happen and the 26-year-old has sustained another setback to a career filled with promise when he burst into the NFL as a dual-threat QB in 2012.
“He’s been through a lot,” Jackson said. “He gets it. He understands it’s unfortunate that it happened. He worked extremely hard. But he also understands that there’s a bigger plan.
“Sometimes he’s not in control of everything, and it was unfortunate that it happened. But I think he’s seen enough situations and been in enough in this league to understand that things happen in due time and that you’ve got to work through this and be prepared when the next opportunity comes.”
Jackson didn’t accuse Mills of a dirty hit, and said the timing was such that Griffin, who was also slightly pushed from cornerback Ron Brooks, couldn’t avoid contact.
“I don’t think the guy was trying to hurt Robert,” Jackson said.
“The guy was out of bounds himself and I think he reacted to this player running at him and at the last minute, I think they both seen each other and that was the reaction.”
Despite being injured and in obvious pain, Griffin, who was checked by Cleveland’s medical staff when he got to the sideline, returned to the field for the final series. While favoring his left arm, Griffin only handed the ball off.
“He wanted to be out there with his teammates,” Jackson said. “I don’t think anybody knew to the extent of the injury. We’re all tough guys, we go out there and play and we want to stay out there with our teammates and finish the game. That’s a credit to Robert.”
With Griffin out, veteran Josh McCown will start this week’s home opener against Baltimore. McCown, who coincidentally sustained a concussion on the opening drive in his debut with Cleveland last season, went 1-7 in eight starts but passed for 457 yards in a win over the Ravens.
McCown was the subject of trade talks during the offseason, but the Browns are glad they hung on to him.
“That’s why we kept Josh here, because he knows how to play and he’s been in this league and understands our offense and what we’re trying to accomplish,” Jackson said.
“It’s unfortunate that this happened to Robert, but it is comforting to know that we have a guy that’s played in NFL games and knows how to manage games.”
McCown is excited by his new chance, but not at the expense of seeing Griffin get hurt.
“It’s just heartbreaking because I know how much he wants to be out there with his guys fighting for his team,” McCown said.
The nearly constant turnover at quarterback has hindered the Browns from winning or developing any stability. The injuries haven’t helped.
“It’s been pretty bad luck,” McCown said. “‘It hasn’t gone well. For whatever reason, it’s just not gotten right.”
Adding insult to injury, the Browns were beaten Sunday by Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, who shined in his debut.
The Browns passed on a chance to take Wentz and traded the No. 2 overall pick to Philadelphia, but Jackson said the team isn’t second-guessing that decision.
“That was one game, and he played well,” Jackson said. “We’ll look back and see where he is over a period of time, but the Browns gotta get better.”