Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan praised the progress that rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has made during the offseason, and said Wednesday that Griffin will continue to improve as he gets more on-field experience.
Shanahan, who on Wednesday addressed the media for the first time since offseason workouts began, said Griffin has picked up the offense faster than he expected. Shanahan also praised the quarterback’s drive and focus.
“He’s done a real good job,” said Shanahan, who enters his third season as offensive coordinator in Washington. “He’s come in, being in a totally different offense, learning totally new terminology, trying new plays he hasn’t done before. It’s been a work in progress. He’s gotten better each day. He works as hard as anyone can at it on the field and off the field, and it’s been a really good camp for him.”
When asked if there is anything about Griffin that has surprised him, Shanahan said it is primarily the speed at which Griffin learns.
“He’s picked it up faster than I expected. Any time a guy doesn’t do a lot of drop-back stuff for his whole career, it’s going to take some time. With him, he’s shown improvement each day. He can comprehend what he needs to do, and what he needs to get better at, and it’s just all about giving him reps.”
During OTAs and the rookie and full-squad minicamp, Griffin took nearly every first-team snap as coaches worked to ensure that he gets as much experience in the system as possible. But at the conclusion of this week’s minicamp, Griffin and his teammates have a five-week break until the start of training camp in late July.
Shanahan’s only complaint of the offseason was that there has to be a break in the action. He knows that Griffin has a good feel for the offense, but the coach says his prized rookie needs as much work as possible so that running the system will become automatic for him.
“He needs reps. His body’s got to go through it, the muscle memory and everything. From a mental aspect, everything’s been very good,” Shanahan said.
Asked what he wants Griffin to work on during his time away from Redskins Park, Shanahan said, “Mainly technique, just getting out there doing it. I don’t care if people are out there with him, I don’t care if he’s doing it by himself, I don’t care if he’s throwing to his fiancée. She’d better pad up. But it’s reps. We can sit in meeting rooms and talk all day. You don’t have to be a genius to get it all. If you work at it — which he no doubt does — you’ll get it from a mental standpoint.
“But it’s not about just understanding it. It’s repping it, and you can’t get enough of those reps. And that’s why rookie quarterbacks tend to struggle. You have to learn through experience, and you’re not going to always get those situations in practice, and the more situations we can put him in, and when we’re not around, that he can visualize, it’ll put him ahead of the curve.”
Shanahan also praised a rejuvenated Santana Moss, and said he considers the veteran one of the top slot receivers in the NFL. He said free agent addition Pierre Garcon, whom Washington signed as a free agent in March, was “by far the best wideout available.”
Shanahan says fellow wideout addition Josh Morgan also has big-play ability and says that he could use a mix of Moss, Morgan and Leonard Hankerson in the slot this season.
Left tackle Kory Lichtensteiger has yet to fully practice as he works his way back from ACL sugery. But Shanahan said he fully expects Lichtensteiger to start at left guard for the Redskins this season.
Running backs Tim Hightower (ACL) and Roy Helu (hamstring) have yet to fully practice, and Shanahan said that “you’re always a little worried” about the status of the run game in that type of situation. But the coach said he hopes to have both on the field by the preseason.
More on the Redskins: