Robert Griffin III knows all too well about injuries to quarterbacks.
Griffin's career trajectory -- from No. 2 overall pick to being out of football a year to being a backup with the Ravens -- was essentially scripted by injuries. So he can relate and empathize with players such as the Pittsburgh Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger, who is out for the season with an elbow injury, or the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees, out for an extended period with an injured throwing hand, or the Jacksonville Jaguars' Nick Foles, out with a broken clavicle.
And even before all those injuries, which took place during the first two weeks of the season, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck -- the only player taken before Griffin in the 2012 draft -- abruptly retired, citing the toll of accumulated injuries.
"For lack of a better term, QBs are dropping like flies right now," Griffin said before the Ravens' practice Sept. 18. "Some teams are down to their third QBs, having to sign guys off a practice squad or guys off the street. It's just the nature of this game. It's a very violent game. ... Not only is it a lot of quarterbacks, but it's a lot of the big-name quarterbacks."
"It really does suck for those guys," Griffin added. "You pray for them and hope they heal quickly."
Until that happens, though, some teams are turning to unproven talent at the game's most important position. Pittsburgh will be led by Mason Rudolph, a third-round pick last year who did not play at all as a rookie. The Jaguars started rookie sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew after Foles' injury.
In New York, the Jets are already down to third-string quarterback Luke Falk; starter Sam Darnold is out with mononucleosis, and his backup, Trevor Siemian, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2.
Calling the NFL "a quarterback-driven league," Griffin said that in the wake of the rash of injuries, "Hopefully we can get quarterback play around the league that keeps people not only interested but wanting to continue to consume the product."
The alarming run of injuries to quarterbacks this early in the season seems to make the Ravens' decision to re-sign Griffin a shrewd one. After returning to the NFL with the Ravens on a one-year deal last year, Griffin re-signed with the Ravens on a two-year, $4 million deal after not finding a starting job elsewhere.
Not only did Griffin's signing give the Ravens a proven, veteran backup with the skill-set to run the Ravens' offense, but it also retained a mentor for Lamar Jackson, who has referred to Griffin as his "Heisman brother."
Jackson has been exceptional in the first two games of the season, leading the Ravens to a 2-0 start with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. He has the league's top passer rating at 145.2, and last week against the Arizona Cardinals, Jackson became the first player in NFL history with at least 120 rushing yards and 270 passing yards in the same game.
Griffin appeared in mopup duty during the Ravens' 59-10 rout of the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, going 6-for-6 and throwing his first touchdown pass since the 2016 season finale.
Last season, Griffin was inactive in 12 of 16 games appeared as a quarterback in just two games to replace the shaken-up Jackson. At times last year Griffin admitted to frustration at being a game day inactive, relegated to a scout team and mentorship role, and while the competitor in him would welcome the chance to play, he recognizes that, "Nobody wants to see me get on the field on this team right now."
"We want to make sure that [Jackson] is fine and can continue to go out and produce at an extremely high level," Griffin said. "But if the opportunity came up that I had to be out there ... you just try to instill confidence in your teammates that they can trust you. I think I have done that here."
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