“We’re going to go out there and hopefully try not to put too much pressure on him, give him a chance to get everyone the ball,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday at Redskins Park before the team conducted a walk-through prior to its scheduled afternoon trip to Buffalo. “He’s not going to play a ton. But hopefully he can go out there and just have some fun and go against a defense he hasn’t seen yet.”
Every move made by Griffin, the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor selected second overall in the April NFL draft, has been closely scrutinized. That promises to be the case again Thursday, even with his starting job already secured and the game’s outcome meaning next to nothing.
“I remember as a rookie being extremely nervous about my first preseason game,” Redskins tight end Chris Cooley said this week. “It was a real game to me. It was a huge moment, and I think it’s a big moment for all of our rookies. I know that they have a lot to prove. Our quarterback has a ton to prove . . . I think he’ll do a good job.”
Griffin said early in the week he expects to be “more anxious than nervous” for the game.
“When you’re anxious, you can’t wait to go succeed,” he said Monday. “I look forward to going out [and] being successful as an NFL quarterback for this franchise. So in that sense, yeah, I’m anxious to go out and get it started.”
Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan said during the week that his advice to Griffin would be to “let the plays happen. Don’t try to make it happen.”
The major question is how much time Griffin will have to allow plays to develop. There were questions about the offensive line heading into training camp, with right tackle Jammal Brown and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger coming off injuries and little done in the offseason to upgrade the unit.
The questions have only intensified. Brown hasn’t practiced in training camp because of an ailing hip, which he aggravated while running sprints the day before camp began. He remains on the camp version of the physically unable to perform list, with no timetable for his return.
Lichtensteiger underwent arthroscopic knee surgery and is expected to miss the preseason. Right guard Chris Chester sprained an ankle this week and probably won’t play Thursday.
That would leave a line composed of starting left tackle Trent Williams, center Will Montgomery and three backups — Tyler Polumbus at right tackle, Adam Gettis at right guard and Maurice Hurt at left guard.
The Redskins must cross their fingers that Griffin’s sometimes-breathtaking running ability won’t be put on display more often than they want.