The evolution of quarterback Robert Griffin III continued Thursday as the Washington Redskins concluded their third round of offseason practices. The rookie showed off his versatility and game management skills, as well as his increasing comfort in Washington’s offensive system.
A week after he appeared to struggle somewhat in the lone practice that was open to the media, Griffin appeared more at ease Thursday. He showed signs of things to come as he gave his defensive teammates some trouble with his legs, arm and head.
“As far as the offense, and as far as knowing what I’m doing, I think I had that ‘ah, ha’ moment yesterday,” Griffin said. “The defense was getting after us a little bit, and we came to that last session of the day, and we just tore them up. … It felt good to know that as long as you know where you’re going with the ball, and as long as you’re aggressive and confident in what you’re doing, you can complete any pass, and I think I had that yesterday.”
Coach Mike Shanahan said that “any time a quarterback has an ‘ah, ha’ moment, you’re always feeling good. Because it means he’s feeling good about what he’s doing.”
The Redskins will hold their full-squad minicamp next week. Training camp begins in late July.
Just more than four weeks ago, on the same day that he named Griffin his starting quarterback, Shanahan said the rookie would be able to do things NFL quarterbacks typically can’t.
The coach said that the Redskins would be able to take advantage of the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback’s speed by implementing some of the option-style schemes that Griffin ran at Baylor.
Over the course of the last three weeks, Griffin has displayed that ability here and there, and has looked right at home running the option when those plays are sprinkled into the offense.
“We’re going to have the flexibility to do a lot of different things, like I told you before,” Shanahan said Thursday. “We’ll run the quarterback keeps, the rolls … different type of option schemes are available to us. … It does create some problems for the defense.”
Although he feels comfortable running those plays when they are called, Griffin continues to stress that he is a runner second and a passer first.
“It’s good that we’re implementing some of the option stuff because I have the ability to run it, but I don’t want people to think I’m just an option quarterback,” Griffin said. “That’s something they have to look at. Last year, I threw for over 4,000 yards, so it’s a wrinkle. It’s a good thing. But we still have our base offense. The offense will not change to an option offense.”
Griffin also displayed more of his game management skills Thursday. Toward the end of practice, he moved his team down the field in two- and one-minute drills.
Griffin looked sharp as he located receivers and marched the team into scoring territory. On the final drill of practice – a one-minute drill – the Redskins reached the red zone on four straight completions by Griffin. But the drive stalled when his fifth pass was broken up in the end zone, and the sixth wound up in the hands of cornerback DeAngelo Hall after it was tipped by two receivers in the end zone.
But Griffin said he is encouraged by his progress, and finds running Washington’s offense becoming more second nature.
“After every practice, I was writing stuff down in my booklet on things I need to work on the next day in practice,” Griffin said. “After yesterday’s practice, I only wrote one thing, and that’s ‘Just play.’ Because at the end of the day, after a few weeks, you know what everything is. You just have to stop thinking about it.”
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