Time to slide! Robert Griffin III insists he'll protect himself

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Robert Griffin III sat out last season, but the new Baltimore Ravens backup quarterback wasn't on the field the last few years that he was in the NFL.

Injuries wiped out a majority of his playing time for the past three seasons. A dislocated ankle, concussion and fractured left shoulder led to 34 missed games in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Griffin acknowledged that he has done a poor job of protecting himself out of the pocket, something he intends to change.

"It just means that when I do run, I'll be smarter about it," Griffin said at his introductory news conference with the Ravens. "I'll slide earlier, get out of bounds when I have to, and when it's time to run for 70 [yards], I'll run for 70. It just is what it is. That's what I more so learned by watching over the years. I'm excited about that."

Griffin became one of the most dynamic talents in the league when he entered the NFL in 2012. The NFL offensive rookie of the year, he led all quarterbacks with 815 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns.

After suffering a knee injury, Griffin ran for a total of 665 yards in his final two seasons in Washington. He then produced 190 yards on the ground in five games in Cleveland in 2016.

The big question with Griffin has been whether he can limit his scrambling and become more of a pocket quarterback. Since his first season in 2012, Griffin has posted a 90.6 passer rating when in the pocket, completing 65.2 percent of his passes and throwing 37 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.

"I feel like I've been in a couple offenses that have asked me [to] primarily be in the pocket, and I've shown that I can do that," Griffin said.

Griffin's injury history dates back to the Ravens. In December 2012, Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata hit a scrambling Griffin, who suffered a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. A month later, Griffin tore the ACL in his right knee in a playoff game.

That led to five more instances when Griffin had to miss time because of an injury.

Griffin, 28, said he doesn't consider the career-altering hit by Ngata as "bad history."

"I feel like if I was only planning to play a couple more years, maybe I would look at that as a turning point," Griffin said. "But that's not my goal, not my focus. Hopefully, this is something that can manifest and be a long-term thing."

The theme of Griffin's news conference was change. He talked about the hard work he put in analyzing offenses and defenses.

Griffin believes he's a more knowledgeable player now -- and that includes being more cautious when he takes off running.

"I feel like I've been able to get a better grasp of how to play the game in the NFL, what coaches are looking for," Griffin said. "I think that's a benefit, whereas in 2012 when I came in, it was more so learning everything on the fly and just going out and playing. Now I feel like I have the ability to go out and play and also know what I'm doing, be able to protect myself better, get the ball to the guys that need to get the ball and help a team win."