Robert Griffin III takes it slow in Washington Redskins’ training camp opener

July 25, 2013

Robert Griffin III remained the center of attention and the leading topic of conversation on the Washington Redskins’ opening practice of training camp here Thursday. Coach Mike Shanahan said the Redskins will continue to move slowly with Griffin, as the quarterback works his way back from surgery to repair the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his right knee.

Shanahan suggested Griffin won’t participate in full team drills for several weeks and confirmed that he does not intend to play Griffin in any of the Redskins’ four preseason games.

“What we plan on doing is progressing every day like we did today,” Shanahan said. “We’ll get a chance to see when he’s ready for a possible team drill, more reps, all those types of things that come with time. But we’re gonna take it slow. . . . It just doesn’t make any sense to play him in any preseason games. So we’re gonna try to get him in football shape. What I’d like to be able to do when he’s ready is be able to play or be able to practice at game-type tempo. When that will occur, I can’t tell you. When I think he’s ready for it — it’s gonna take some time. It surely won’t happen for two to three weeks.”

Griffin received medical clearance to practice from orthopedist James Andrews last week. He performed drills for Shanahan and other Redskins coaches Monday to convince them to keep him off the physically unable to perform list, which would have meant staying out of practices entirely.

Shanahan determined that Griffin would be permitted to participate only in individual drills, including some passing drills, in the early stages of camp. Griffin said Wednesday that he supported the plan.

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Griffin was on the field for the Redskins’ morning walk-through Thursday. He took the field around 3:15 p.m. for the afternoon practice to an enthusiastic ovation by the crowd — estimated at around 6,100 fans — at the team’s new training camp facility.

He completed 7 of 8 passes during seven-on-seven passing drills, including one particularly crisp throw to tight end Fred Davis. Griffin stood and watched while Kirk Cousins and the other Redskins quarterbacks took over for 11-on-11 drills. Griffin did chase linebacker Bryan Kehl, even as a supposed non-participant in the drill, as Kehl returned an interception late in the practice.

At this training camp, it’s always about Griffin, even when it’s not supposed to be.

“That’s our plan initially: make him feel comfortable with what we’re doing, feel comfortable with going back to doing some football drills, some football moves, and see how he does,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan said his decision to keep Griffin on the sideline for the entire preseason was based in part on the Redskins having a quick turnaround — from a Monday night game to a Saturday game — between their third and fourth exhibition contests.

“You’d like to play him some,” Shanahan said. “But you’ve got to judge if it’s worth it. In my opinion, if you’re gonna put him in, you’d have to put him in earlier than later because you don’t play your whole team in the fourth preseason game. You’re not going to put your starting quarterback in there. And from a Monday night game to a Saturday game doesn’t make sense to me.”

Two other key Redskins players coming back from injuries, Davis and linebacker Brian Orakpo, were more active Thursday. Davis split snaps on the starting offense with Logan Paulsen, who replaced Davis as the team’s starting tight end last season after Davis suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon.

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“Since we have five tight ends, I think a lot of people are going to get a lot of reps,” Davis said. “But at the same time, I think I’m going to get a lot of the first-team reps. I think the object will be for me to definitely ease myself back in but still play hard.”

Davis was re-signed by the Redskins in free agency. He did not participate in offseason practices, instead doing his rehabilitation work on the side.

“Physically I feel fine,” Davis said. “I feel 100 percent. But I think mentally is more the thing that you’ve got to deal with every day. I haven’t felt sore yet. I’ve been running routes for the last couple months now. I feel good but it’s different when you’ve got defense out there and you’re trying to make somebody miss and do everything.”

Orakpo practiced with the starting defense. He said earlier Thursday he is under no restrictions for training camp as he returns from a torn left pectoral muscle.

“I’m full go,” Orakpo said. “I told them, ‘Don’t hold me back for nothing.’ I’m not worried about cautiousness and all that other [stuff] that goes along with it. I’m 100 percent and I told them that, and they know. So I’ll be full go for every day.”

Mark Maske covers the NFL for The Washington Post.
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