|Sunday, August 3
Griffith guarantees he'll be ready for season opener
By Len Pasquarelli
BEREA, Ohio -- Starting strong safety Robert Griffith, the most veteran member of the Cleveland Browns secondary and one of the team's unquestioned senior leaders, will miss the entire preseason with a broken finger sustained in a Friday practice.
The nine-year veteran, who came to the Browns as an unrestricted free agent last season, broke his right index finger when he hit it on a helmet or shoulder pad during a combined practice with the Buffalo Bills.
Griffith, 32, did not participate in the Saturday scrimmage with the Bills and his hand is in a soft cast that extends up his forearm. Griffith insisted he will be recovered in time for the regular-season opener against Indianapolis on Sept. 7. And even if the fracture is not fully healed, he said he is prepared to play with a soft cast and a protective wrap.
"I've played with (a cast) on before and did OK with it," said Griffith, who performed much of the 1998 season with a cast, when he was with the Minnesota Vikings. "I'm not going to miss the opener, no way, I promise you that. I just need to get some swelling out of it and it will be more (tolerable)."
In the Saturday scrimmage, third-year veteran Michael Jameson, who has played in only 11 games and started one in his career, worked at strong safety with the first unit. Coach Butch Davis also hinted he might move cornerback Chris Crocker, the team's third-round draft pick, to safety. Crocker, from Marshall, played some safety in college.
Davis seemed to share Griffith's optimism that he would be ready for the opener against the Colts. He said that, once doctors determine the finger has started to heal, it would be about 10 days until Griffith could return.
The veteran safety had 109 tackles, three interceptions and eight passes defensed for the Browns in 2002. He spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Vikings.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.