RICHMOND — Quarterback Robert Griffin III was on the field with his Washington Redskins teammates for conditioning drills here Wednesday as the team reported to training camp at its still-glistening new summer facility. He said he will be back on the field Thursday for the opening practice of camp but will not participate in full team drills, and he pledged to be ready for the regular season even as he acknowledged he does not expect to play in any preseason games.
“I think if you talk to a lot of the vets, they don’t even like the preseason,” Griffin said at a late-afternoon news conference. “I think that’s a well-known fact. Even I know that, and I’ve only been in the league one year. I think you get that timing, those reps, in practice. And that’s what I’m going to get later in the preseason. So I look forward to that. Right now it’s just about everybody’s on the same page, and we want to make sure that we continue growing as a team, and me and [Coach] Mike Shanahan’s relationship is paramount to the team being successful.”
The Redskins arrived at training camp coming off a late-season run last year that resulted in an NFC East title. Griffin led that charge and was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year. But their offseason was filled with uncertainty after Griffin failed to finish the Redskins’ playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks and underwent surgery days later in January to have tears of the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his right knee repaired. He said Wednesday he knows he will have to spend the weeks leading up to the regular season demonstrating his knee is sound.
“The current plan is just patience is the key,” Griffin said. “So I did all I could in the offseason working out, rehabbing. I passed all my tests with Dr. [James] Andrews, with the doctors for the Redskins and with the coaching staff. They just want to make sure that we’re not doing anything too soon that we don’t have to do. So let some of these other guys get ready for the preseason.
“If it comes around that I’m ready to go maybe in the third preseason game — but as far as my understanding goes, preseason is really not even in the air. It’s not a worry at all. I feel like I can play. I think Coach feels like I can play without any preseason. So there’s no need really for that. But patience is the key. Like I said, I’ve done everything I can. So I’m just going to work myself back into it. And it just feels good to be back out there with the guys.”
Griffin declined to estimate by percentage how fully he believes his knee is healed. He said he was confident after being cleared last week by Andrews, the orthopedist who performed his surgery, that he wouldn’t have to be completely idle when training camp began. But first he also had to satisfy the team’s coaches that his knee was healthy enough for him to practice on even a limited basis. He accomplished that during a workout Monday.
The plan as camp gets underway, according to Griffin, is that he will participate in individual drills and seven-on-seven passing drills during practices and take part in portions of walk-throughs. He will be relegated to the side, he said, for 11-on-11 drills, in which backup Kirk Cousins will run the Redskins’ starting offense.
“I want to make this decision as easy for everybody as possible,” Griffin said. “So whether it’s Coach, the doctors — the decision for me to play Week 1. If they want me to be patient right now and ramp it up later, then I’m willing to do that. And they know that I’m going be, I wouldn’t say compliant, but I’m going to follow those rules, follow those guidelines, do as much as I can within that. And when it’s time to go full-go, then I’ll be ready to go.”
Griffin said he doesn’t anticipate playing in the preseason “unless it’s a necessity.”
The progress of Griffin’s recovery will be the dominant story line as the Redskins go on the road for training camp, having moved their summertime base of operations here this year from their regular season training facility in Ashburn.
“I think it bonds your team a lot better than staying at home to practice,” linebacker London Fletcher said.
Training camp is a time for optimism for all NFL teams, justified or not. For the Redskins, this training camp might actually be a time for justified optimism after last season’s turnaround. They had totaled only 11 wins in Shanahan’s first two seasons.
“We’re capable of building off last year,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “Last year it was tough sledding at the beginning. But we got the continuity going.”
Griffin said in his mind he has “nothing left to prove” to be ready to play in a regular season game. He vowed to be smart about what he does when he runs with the ball during games, saying he will slide or throw the ball away when self-preservation dictates. He called his relationship with Shanahan solid after the coach was criticized widely for allowing the young quarterback to remain in the playoff game against the Seahawks.
“I think we’re on the same page right now,” Griffin said. “You know, we all made mistakes last season. We all understand that. We’ve all talked about it. And it’s time to move on. We’re moving forward and hopefully moving up to a Super Bowl.”
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