The Washington Redskins are now a full week into training camp, and today they spent much of their practice working on game situations.
The team went through multiple scripted series with a live clock. Players also worked on their hurry-up offense. Officials were on hand to help make the practice as similar to a real game as possible.
This wasn’t the sharpest practice of camp, particularly for Robert Griffin III and the offense.
Griffin definitely had some good throws. As I’ve said before, when he rolls out, or throws on the run, his accuracy is impressive. I can see him developing some good chemistry with his receivers. You can see indications that Leonard Hankerson can become a go-to guy on those out-routes, and that he’ll move the chains for the Redskins. Santana Moss continues to look good in the slot, and Pierre Garçon has made plays on a variety of routes.
But there were struggles as well Thursday.
Griffin threw two interceptions – one when the play would have been whistled dead, because when he rolled out to his right, no one was open and Griffin had linebackers flying at him, and usually, he would have either taken off, or been tackled. The defenders pulled up, but Griffin still tried the force the ball into the end zone to his receiver. DeAngelo Hall came up with his second interception in as many days.
The second interception came during a no-huddle drive. Griffin had marched his offense downfield and into the red zone. He took the snap and on an off-scheduled play, went to Brandon Banks in the slot. The quarterback never saw cornerback Kevin Barnes, who jumped the route and picked off the pass.
“I had underneath coverage, but I didn’t want Robert to know because he’s a pretty smart guy,” Barnes said. “I was lined up on the No. 1 receiver, Terrence [Austin], who had a fake out-and-up. So, I dumped Terrence, turned and Banks ran a little shallow route behind it, and I came back behind and jumped it.”
Chalk one up for Barnes, who recognized the formation from a previous play and was then able to fool the rookie into going away from what was originally called and to a secondary receiver who actually wasn’t as open as he seemed.
Coach Mike Shanahan wasn’t bothered by the interception, noting that it is just part of the learning process for Griffin.
“That’s part of practice. You’re going to test yourselves,” Shanahan said. “. . .We’re playing it just like a game. You try to put a guy like Robert through as many game-type situations as possible, and hopefully it gets him ready a little bit quicker.”
One thing that Griffin wasn’t consistently very quick about today was getting rid of the ball. On multiple occasions, he held onto it for more than three seconds while trying to locate an open receiver and was swallowed up by the defense.
These are areas that require obvious improvement. The Redskins hope that with more repetition, Griffin will grow sharper.
It’s hard to say whether Griffin was taking more time to allow patterns to unfold rather than throwing the ball away or running because he knew defenders weren’t going to tackle him. Or perhaps he still is working to develop that internal clock in a faster game. In these practices, there are times where he appears deliberate in his movements – pump-fakes, drop-backs, stepping into throws – because he wants to ensure he does it right. Other times, he looks herky-jerky, as if he’s not yet comfortable in his new system.
And since Griffin won’t be made available to reporters again until Monday, I couldn’t ask him how things were, or weren’t, clicking today.
But it’ll definitely be interesting to see how he does in these areas in a full-speed, real game setting.