Griffin showed off his breathtaking speed and eye-catching arm strength, but mixed some high throws and one-hoppers with other, more accurate passes on a sweltering afternoon at Redskins Park. He and the Redskins had to settle for it being one of those grueling, grind-it-out days that are a necessary part of the learning process for a young quarterback whose every move is watched so closely.
“It’s the first day, so you can’t really get crazy about it,” wide receiver Pierre Garcon said after practice. “We’ve just got to get our basics down and get things going. . . . He’s doing a lot of great things. We’ve just got to all come together around him.”
Griffin drew cheers from the fans for some of his throws during warmup drills, when no defenders were covering receivers, but things were tougher during full team drills. Griffin made some good throws, including one zipped to wideout Santana Moss for a completion despite tight coverage by safety Brandon Meriweather. Wide receiver Josh Morgan made a leaping catch along the sideline of a slightly high pass by Griffin.
But Garcon had the ball slip through his hands for an incompletion on a well-thrown pass over the middle. Morgan couldn’t grab a low throw. Griffin failed to connect with Garcon on a deep lob.
“Every day, we’re going to get better,” Moss said. “Every day, he’s going to get better. I don’t want to go and every day be asked that question and have to say something new. I just feel like today is the first day for us all, and I think we all got better today.”
Griffin, the second overall selection in the NFL draft who already has been named the team’s starter by Coach Mike Shanahan, put his quickness on display whenever he darted from the pocket. Not everyone treated him with deference; at the end of one run, when Griffin held the ball and ran out bounds, Meriweather yelled, “I wish you would throw that . . . !” in his direction.
But the Redskins know what Griffin meansto their present as well as to their future.
“Every year, every team comes in saying, ‘This is our year,’ ” Moss said. “I feel like we’ve been searching for that guy. This is our guy.”
Griffin stopped to sign autographs for fans on his way off the field. He signed with his right hand while carrying three helmets in his left, toting the gear of veteran players, a rookie rite of passage.
“It’s the first day,” Shanahan said. “We’re just starting to work . . . . Hopefully we grow every day and we try to get better every day.”
The attention focused on Griffin is intense, even by the usual standards of prized young NFL quarterbacks. His teammates certainly have noticed, but they seem to accept it.
“Credit goes to where it’s deserved,” running back Tim Hightower said Thursday. “He’s done a great job of working and putting himself in a great position. . . . As a teammate, it’s our responsibility to rise to the occasion and take some of the focus, take some of that pressure off of him.”
Tight end Chris Cooley said he’s excited about Griffin’s arrival and the other changes made by the team. He praised Griffin at length Thursday and said any season that ends shy of a Super Bowl appearance is a disappointment. But he also said the enthusiasm that accompanies the opening of training camp must be tempered. Cooley, after all, has seen his fair share of Redskins seasons begin with high hopes on the heels of big offseason moves, only to end in disappointing fashion.
“There’s a lot of confidence now,” Cooley said. “There’s always a lot of confidence in August. We always think we’re going to the Super Bowl. We’re the best football team in the NFL in August every year, in my opinion. So I think we’ve got to look past that and say we’ve got a lot of work to do. We’ll come and do it every day. We don’t have anything to talk about right now. We haven’t won a lot of football games in a long time. So let’s see what we can do to fix it.”
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