Washington Redskins running back Roy Helu Jr. was walking to breakfast Wednesday morning at Redskins Park when he learned via a headline on television Robert Griffin III was being benched. Coach Jay Gruden had informed all three of his quarterbacks the day before he would be starting Colt McCoy for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts instead, but he didn’t officially reveal his decision to the rest of the players until a team meeting later Wednesday.
By then, word was out, and Helu, like a handful of his teammates who spoke during the open locker room, expressed surprise over the move yet vowed to press on regardless of who is playing quarterback.
“I think it’s not as much of a distraction because we’ve had some switch-overs with Robert being hurt,” Helu said. “Once Colt was announced the starter, some of the guys were just, ‘Okay, we’ve just got to keep going.’ He’s proven himself with the one game under his belt that we played Monday night a couple weeks ago.’
Helu was referring to a 20-17 overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on Oct. 27. McCoy completed 25 of 30 passes for 299 yards and rushed for one touchdown in his only start of the season. Griffin then started the last three games, all losses.
Fullback Darrel Young is one of the players closest to Griffin, and he said he spoke with the 2012 No. 2 overall pick after learning of the benching.
“Anytime you see your starting quarterback go down, you’re obviously just like, ‘Man, it sucks, just being in that position,” Young said. “I feel for him. Like I said, I know what type of guy he is. You always want to see the best for the guy, so hopefully, I hope Colt goes in there and does what he can do, and we just go out there, and we just win the game. That’s what it’s about.”
Players have grown used to the quarterback carousel surrounding the Redskins in the wake of the fourth change this season. Griffin opened the season as the starter before dislocating his ankle and giving way to Kirk Cousins. When Cousins proved ineffective, Gruden went to McCoy to start the second half of a 19-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans and the following week against Dallas.
Now comes another change two days after a conference call in which Gruden said it was his “intent” to start Griffin against the Colts.
“I guess anytime there’s a change, hopefully you make a change thinking it will give us another little boost,” tight end Niles Paul said. “Hopefully Colt can come in and do what he’s been coached to do and not make mistakes, and the defense will do the same thing in return.”
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