Aaron Rodgers, Maurice Jones-Drew, Robert Griffin III
Finally, the brace is off.
Robert Griffin III is able to move with far greater freedom in Washington Redskins offseason practices without the cumbersome protection that the quarterback has had on his right knee since undergoing surgery to repair a torn LCL and ACL after the 2012 season.
“It feels great,” Griffin told reporters covering the Redskins. “I’m blessed to have an offseason this year and not have to wear the brace. But I don’t necessarily look at last year as a downer because of the brace. It’s just better this year not to have it.”
Griffin also is feeling good about the progress he is making in the offensive system of new head coach Jay Gruden.
“I feel really comfortable with what Coach is asking all of us to do – offensive line, receivers, running backs, tight ends and the QB room,” Griffin said. “It’s all coming together nicely. That’s what we wanted to get out of this offseason, to have that offense down and be able to do multiple things, run a little no-huddle, be able to line up and mash guys.
“And it’s all coming together. So I feel really comfortable and it really helps having these guys here and doing the great things we’re doing.”
AARON ROGERS ASSUMES TEACHING ROLE AS PACKERS ADJUST OFFENSE
With a number of new players joining the Green Bay Packers’ offense, coach Mike McCarthy felt it was time for adjustments within the scheme to make it easier to learn.
And by simplifying some of the way things have been done for the past several years, McCarthy has, in fact, made it a bit harder for his quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. But by forcing Rodgers to work at understanding the changes, McCarthy believes he has put him in a better position to teach the younger players what they need to do to be successful.
“The biggest change was for Aaron, but it was the best thing for the group,” McCarthy told reporters covering the Packers. “So he had a little more studying to do this year than in prior years. No one knows our offense better than Aaron Rodgers. He clearly understands why we make changes or adjustments because frankly, he’s driving this machine, and it’s not only better for the rest of our offense, it's obviously better for him, too. He definitely welcomed all of the adjustments.”
The effects of the adjustments have shown up during offseason workouts, with Rodgers working to make sure that everyone is on the same page – especially his younger teammates.
“He’s coaching me up every time I make just the slightest mistake," rookie wide receiver Davante Adams said. “He’s making sure I’m doing exactly what needs to be done. He has my best interests at heart – and obviously he knows what he is doing, so I’m going to listen to everything he says.”
TROY POLAMALU: IT’S ‘STRANGE’ TO BE THE OLDEST STEELER PLAYER
At 33 and entering his 12th NFL season, Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu finds himself dealing with a couple of major changes.
One of the biggest is the fact he will be paired with a new free safety; that has happened only twice before in his time with the Steelers. This year, Polamalu will be lined up with Mike Mitchell, who replaces Ryan Clark, now a member of the Washington Redskins.
But another is the fact that Polamalu is one of two players on the Steelers to have the distinction of being the oldest on the roster.
“It’s strange to be the oldest, most experienced guy on the team,” Polamalu told reporters covering the Steelers. “When Jerome (Bettis) was here, one of the greatest running backs ever to play the game, and he was old, I hoped that one day I would get old and play as long as him.
“Now here I am. I guess I’m old, too.”
MAURICE JONES-DREW DOES INTENSE TRAINING TO REBOUND WITH RAIDERS
After a sluggish 2013 season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, running back Maurice Jones-Drew is determined to make amends with his new team, the Oakland Raiders.
It won’t be easy. He had foot surgery last year, which contributed to his struggles with the Jaguars. He also is 29, putting him in the twilight stage of a typical NFL running back’s career.
Knowing those obstacles, Jones-Drew is challenging himself to the fullest with a training routine that includes a grueling run up a steep, 500-yard hillside in Southern California each week.
“The first time, I was like, ‘If I want to be the best, I’ve got to get up and run this thing,’” Jones-Drew was quoted as saying in the Los Angeles Times. “We ran about 12 of them. That’s the work you have to put in."
Said Jones-Drew’s trainer, Mike Blasquez, “The hill he runs is a beast – 500 yards and uphill at 40 degrees. We’ve run it in the rain, run it when it was hard as a rock. Maurice is no-frills. He doesn’t need anything fancy. He just wants to work.”>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com. We take your questions at 216-578-0850 and via Twitter @Browns_Daily.