Groves trying to move on from ’embarrassing’ offseason

CLEVELAND – Quentin Groves has plenty to prove to the Browns in his first year with the organization.

Playing well at linebacker is part of the challenge. The other part is proving that his character off the field won’t be a distraction.

Groves couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start with the Browns than he did last March during a minicamp. Shortly after signing a two-year contract, Groves was arrested for solicitation of a prostitute as part of a sting operation conducted by the communities of Beachwood and Orange in cooperation of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.

“It’s been a tough offseason,” Groves said after Monday’s practice session. “Everyone knows about my offseason.”

The incident was an embarrassment for Groves and the Browns. He wants to show the organization that it was a one-time mistake and that he won’t be a problem for first-year coach Rob Chudzinski.

“Anything like that when it comes out is embarrassing,” Groves said. “At the same time, that’s not who you are. You can’t go back and change it. All you can do is move forward and make sure they don’t happen again. If they happen again, you’ve got a problem now.”

Groves was fortunate in that the front office was supportive.

“They were the best,” Groves said of the front office. “When it first came up coach Chud, (owner) Mr. (James) Haslam and Mr. (Michael) Lombardi called me and said, ‘We have your back. Everyone makes mistakes. Things happen. Bounce back from it. You owe us a couple of sacks in the Super Bowl.’ “

Groves, a second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008, is now part of an interesting mix of talent at linebacker. He’s being groomed as a backup at inside and outside.

The Browns made a concerted attempt to bolster the corps of linebackers because of the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 base defense. In addition to Groves, also added were Paul Kruger in free agency and Barkevious Mingo in the first round of the draft.

“You fit in where you want to,” Groves said. “In this business the best guys are going to play. I’ll take it up wherever I have to. If one of those guys goes down, I can come in. I know my role. That’s the biggest thing.”

Groves isn’t sure at this early stage of training camp exactly what his role will be.

“All I know is I’m going to be a great special-teams leader and a great, energetic guy that loves playing football,” he said. “Wherever they want to plug me in, they can plug me in. I know the defense. In and out from the inside linebacker positions to the safety positions.”

Kruger went out on a limb recently when he compared the defense to the outstanding defense of the Baltimore Ravens, whom he played for the previous four seasons. All Groves knows is that the defense won’t be a weakness.

“We’re going to be as good as we allow ourselves to be,” he said. “A lot of guys are learning and doing great things out there.”

Groves never developed as planned in two seasons with the Jaguars. He spent the next two seasons with the Oakland Raiders before playing last season in Arizona, where he played for current Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

Horton proved to be a drawing card for Groves when he entered the free-agent market.

“He was instrumental in me rebuilding my career,” said Groves, who had four of his 6.5 career sacks last season. “I wanted to reward him for what he did for me.”