RICHMOND – It happens here and there during Redskins practices on a daily basis. Robert Griffin III’s protection breaks down, a defensive lineman or linebacker barrels into the backfield and tags the quarterback in his yellow non-contact jersey — a move that is supposed to end the play.
Griffin could throw the ball away when spotting the unblocked pressure, but he refuses. He could stop at the sound of the whistle, but he instead ignores it, scrambles away and locates a receiver downfield, or a tight end or running back for a check-down toss. He’ll commend the pass-catcher as if the play counted.
It’s more important in Griffin’s mind to continue with the rep so once the games begin, when it will take more than a tag to bring him down, he and his targets already will have experience executing on the fly. There are times when it appears Griffin will even force a throw rather than just run out of bounds, or throw the ball away. But practice is no place to do that, he says.
“I’m not going to throw the ball away in practice,” Griffin said firmly. “I’m not a believer in that, and coach understands where I come from with that mind-set. I want to try to keep the play alive and get guys that work on scramble drill. We don’t just say, ‘this play isn’t going to work.’ It might have been a sack, but we’re going to keep the play moving just to make sure we get those reps.”
In each of the past two practices, Griffin has made a handful of impressive improvisational plays.
On Friday, one of the highlights involved Griffin scrambling to his right to elude defenders, drifting closer to the sideline, before flicking the ball downfield to DeSean Jackson, who hadn’t given up on the play even though at one point more red jerseys encircled Griffin than whites. Jackson made the catch just out of the reach of his defender, tucked the ball and raced toward the end zone.
On Saturday, one play that stood out featured Griffin again rolling to his right before slamming on the brakes with his path to the sideline blocked. He zigzagged his way through defenders, found some daylight, and then made an underhanded flip of the ball to running back Alfred Morris to his right.
Those refuse-to-surrender plays will pay off come game time, Griffin and his teammates believe.
“We have guys out there and a coach emphasizing that those plays are big,” Griffin said. “A lot of the quarterbacks making big plays in this league, a lot of them are broken plays.”
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After a day off Sunday, the Redskins return to camp Monday morning for an 8:35 a.m. practice. They’ll be joined in Richmond by the New England Patriots. Here’s our camp guide, if you’re planning to attend.
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