The crowd was thinner than last year’s, their screaming drowned out by the steady rain. Long throws slipped through receivers’ hands. Quarterbacks danced gingerly on soggy turf.
“When we first walked out and saw the rain, we were like, ‘Man, please cancel practice,’” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said.
This round went to the weather.
With a healthy Robert Griffin III wearing his “yin and the yang” one-side-white-one-side-black cleats and leggings, Washington opened its second camp Thursday at the Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond. But coach Jay Gruden’s debut generated all the excitement of a spelling bee.
The crowd of 1,000 or so — about a third the size of the smallest crowd at the team’s inaugural camp last year — focused on Griffin’s right knee. The one that limited him last camp has finally healed and let him move in the pocket gracefully once again.
Fans seemed cautious. Last summer’s large, hysterical crowds rivaled Beatlemania of the 1960s with nonstop chants of “RGIII” throughout practice. This time, there was only a smattering of yells by autograph seekers.
Has last fall’s 3-13 season and the mediocre effort by Griffin separated bandwagoners from camp followers? It could be that fans decided to wait for Fan Appreciation Day on Aug. 2 and joint practices with the New England Patriots on Aug. 4-6, rather than come to everyday workouts in the rain.
But there’s no doubt the magic of RGIII has dimmed since last summer. Suddenly, he’s being analyzed by fans rather than idolized. With a new coach and a new offense, Griffin knows he’s starting anew again.
“It’s just a huge feel-out process about just getting to know a new coach,” he said, “a new offense and then getting to know some of the new weapons that we have.”
One of those weapons is receiver DeSean Jackson, who dropped Griffin’s one golden downfield pass between his wet hands.
Neither was concerned about one snap in July.
“One play doesn’t tell you anything about chemistry,” Griffin said. “He knows if I miss him one time I’m going to get him the next, and if he misses something then he’ll make that play for me. That chemistry’s there.”
Still, it showed Griffin that the reps he missed while rehabbing last summer are vital this preseason.
“You can never get tired of doing things the right way, and that goes for every quarterback in the league,” he said. “We’re all trying to find little ways to get better, little ways to have that advantage.”
And next year’s camp will once again overflow.
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