CLEVELAND -- Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is inactive for today’s game at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins will start, and veteran Rex Grossman will be the backup. Griffin suffered a mild knee sprain last Sunday against the Ravens, and the Redskins are worried about further damage if he had played.
The Browns (5-8) need a win today and a loss by the Steelers at Dallas to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with two games remaining. The Redskins (7-6) are in the thick of playoff contention in the NFC.
Cousins, a fourth-round pick from Michigan State, will make his first NFL start. He’s played in two games, completing seven of 11 passes for 137 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 107.0 rating.
He finished a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter last week, throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left and running a quarterback sneak for the tying 2-point conversion. Washington won in overtime.
The Redskins announced Saturday night Cousins would start. But it was uncertain if Griffin would dress until this morning.
Griffin warmed up before the game on the stadium grass, throwing a lot of balls. But the Redskins decided to make him inactive.
The Browns appear to be catching a break by not facing Griffin. His 104.2 passer rating shares the league lead with Tom Brady. He’s thrown 18 touchdowns and only four interceptions (tied for the league low) with a 66.4 completion percentage (fourth).
He’s just as dangerous when he keeps the ball. His 748 rushing yards are an NFL record for a rookie quarterback. He leads the NFL with a 6.7 average per carry and has six rushing touchdowns.
The Browns began their current three-game winning streak against Pittsburgh, which played without starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
There were no surprises among the Browns’ inactives. Cornerback Trevin Wade, safety Eric Hagg, running back Brandon Jackson, tight end Brad Smelley, fullback Owen Marecic, offensive lineman Jarrod Shaw and receiver Josh Cooper won’t dress.
Smelley was promoted from the practice squad Monday.
Running back Trent Richardson will start. He was added to the injury list Saturday as probable with an illness.
For the Redskins, linebacker London Fletcher and left tackle Trent Williams are active after being listed as questionable on the injury report. Fletcher, a 15-year veteran, is playing his first game in his hometown. He’s played in 237 straight games.
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