Robert Griffin III didn't embarrass himself Friday night in the Cleveland Browns' 17-11 loss in the preseason opener at Green Bay, but his first period of play will hardly put him on the road to Comeback Player of the Year.
Griffin had the same mixed bag in the game that he has shown in practice.
He started with a 49-yard completion to Terrelle Pryor down the sideline -- a play made possible by a veteran push by Pryor to create separation. That was Griffin's highlight, though, as the drive ended with an interception at the goal line and the next drive against Green Bay backups went nowhere.
On the interception, Griffin threw as if he expected Gary Barnidge to cross in front of a safety, but Barnidge kept running up the field. Coach Hue Jackson gave nobody any slack, saying he had emphasized avoiding turnovers, and his team had one in the scoring zone.
"We have to always be a team that takes care of the ball," Jackson said.
"That's on me," Griffin said. "I'm the quarterback. I have to make sure we are not hurting ourselves with penalties or turnovers."
The turnover short-circuited a drive that had reached the Packers' 21-yard-line -- and it came against what was mainly the Packers' starters. But with the Packers' backup defense on the field, Griffin and the rest of the starting unit got nothing done. Griffin missed three of four throws -- one when he threw a screen pass that would have gone nowhere into the ground, another when he badly overthrew Taylor Gabriel at the sideline on third down.
The Browns will find positives in Griffin's play, but his rating was below 40 -- he botched a handoff that could have been a turnover and got little done against the backups. Some of his reads were quick-hitting plays, on others he appeared to focus on one receiver.
The work continues.
QB depth chart: Nothing will change with the top two spots on this depth chart. Jackson committed to Griffin when he named him the starter. Griffin had good and bad moments in his two series. Josh McCown threw a touchdown pass, but had it called back because he crossed the line of scrimmage as he ran left to avoid a rush. The most noteworthy development on this unit was that Austin Davis took the third-team reps ahead of rookie Cody Kessler. Kessler's first throw late in the third quarter was a 10-yard touchdown pass to Rashard Higgins on a back-shoulder fade, but on his next dropback in the end zone, Kessler ran past the back line for a safety. It brought some chuckles from players on the sideline, but not from Jackson. Kessler later was tackled in the end zone for another safety.
Maybe that player could start: Pryor did start, and on the first series of the game had receptions for 49 and 8 yards. The deep throw came on the game's first play, the short catch converted a third down. Making the receptions was impressive enough for a quarterback in his second season trying to convert to receiver, but the way Pryor did it was more impressive. On the deep throw, he created separation with a late push, and on the short throw he caught the ball falling down. Receivers Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon did not play for the Browns, so when they return the competition will increase. But Pryor is doing nothing to hurt his cause.
Who got hurt? Pryor went for X-rays on his left hand after the game. Running back Isaiah Crowell also had X-rays on his shoulder. Jackson said he thought neither situation involved a serious injury. Backup receiver Rannell Hall twisted his left ankle when his leg was caught underneath him as he was tackled. Hall, who had been having a good camp, was taken off the field on a cart. The Browns played the game without Coleman (hamstring) and Gordon (quad). Davis also left the game because of concussion-like symptoms after he took a nasty hit trying to scramble.
Two players who impressed: Rookie defensive lineman Carl Nassib had been quiet in practice, but in the game he was anything but. Nassib correctly read a screen pass and was able to spin and chase down John Crockett before he could break free for a big gain. On back-to-back plays later in the second quarter, Nassib stopped a run after a short gain, then sacked Packers quarterback Joe Callahan. It was an impressive debut for a guy who did not practice at all during offseason work. Defensive lineman Emmanuel Ogbah also was impressive. He played a down end, played with force, and ran well. The Browns had to be pleased with both of their high draft picks on the defensive line.
When it was starters vs. starters, the Browns looked ...: Sloppy. A penalty on a punt gave the Packers a first down. A dropped kick after a safety turned the ball over to Green Bay. Griffin and Crowell missed connections on a handoff, putting the ball on the ground. Griffin and Barnidge missed connections at the goal line, which led to a Green Bay interception. A Griffin third-down throw sailed well over the head of Gabriel at the sideline. Those kinds of miscues led to these being the first words out of Jackson's mouth as he spoke to Channel 5 in Cleveland at halftime: "We've got work to do."
One reason to be concerned: Center Cam Erving is being given the first chance to replace Alex Mack, and he had missed about a week after bruising an elbow in practice. But he was pushed back on a play, missed another block, and at times seemed to struggle. Erving is an important a player in the center of the line. The Browns need him to be better.
First-game yards: First preseason games shouldn't be overemphasized. But the expectation of every coach in every game is that players make the most of the chance they are given. Here is a sampling of quarterbacks who played this weekend in their team's first preseason game and their total passing yards: Dan Orlovsky -- 164; Matt Moore -- 122; AJ McCarron -- 125; Matt Schaub -- 179; Nate Sudfeld -- 89; Carson Wentz -- 89; Ryan Griffin -- 148; Luke McCown -- 143; Jimmy Garoppolo -- 168; Derek Anderson -- 93; Ryan Mallett -- 91; Brandon Allen -- 138; Bryce Petty -- 93; Mark Sanchez -- 99. Griffin had 67 for the Browns, 49 coming on one throw. Josh McCown had five, giving the Browns' top two quarterbacks 72 combined yards. Meanwhile, Green Bay's Callahan threw for 124 yards with one touchdown. Callahan is Green Bay's third quarterback, an undrafted free agent from Wesley College.
What RG III said: Griffin had this comment about his play, as provided by the team after halftime: "Our operation was smooth getting in and out of the huddle, getting the plays and making the calls. We had a few mistakes, but overall, I thought it was good for us to get out and go against another team. We look forward to getting back on the field during the next preseason game."