Redskins' RG3 weighing quick decision-making against his fearlessness

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Sports,MLB,Nationals,John Keim

Quick thinking is part of what Redskins want

ASHBURN -- The goal is to make fast decisions, preventing the kind of problems in the pocket Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III encountered Saturday night vs. Chicago. A blown assignment followed by a failed block followed by his decision to make a play at the last second led to a fumble.

The trick, though, is to keep alive Griffin's penchant for escaping trouble and then making plays. It's a big reason why he won the Heisman Trophy and was the No. 2 pick in the draft.

"Once you stop trying to make a play, that's when you start playing with fear," Griffin said. "I'm not going to play with fear."

- John Keim

Notes
» Linebacker Brian Orakpo (left pectoral) and safety Brandon Meriweather (left knee) won't play the rest of the preseason. But at least in Orakpo's case, that's a lot better than originally feared. The starting outside linebacker will return for the season opener. Both players underwent MRIs Sunday, which were negative. Orakpo said he had a bad feeling when he first injured his pectoral -- the same one he hurt in the 2011 season finale. On Saturday, Orakpo hurt it attempting to tackle Chicago's Devin Hester in the open field during a 33-31 loss. "I thought I retore it," Orakpo said. "It popped on me on the field, so I was scared. It was the same reaction as when I tore it in Philly." Coach Mike Shanahan said Meriweather's knee is still sore and called him day to day.
» In other injury news, linebacker London Fletcher practiced, though it was a light workout, and Shanahan said he should play vs. Indianapolis on Saturday barring a setback. Running back Roy Helu has two sore Achilles tendons, Shanahan said, and he did not practice. Running back Tim Hightower practiced, but his surgically repaired left knee was sore, and his status for Saturday is uncertain. Left guard Kory Lichtensteiger (right knee) participated in drill work Monday.

Nor would the Redskins want him to play that way. But tweaking his game? Yes.

More than half the time Griffin dropped back to pass vs. Chicago on Saturday he held the ball for approximately 3.2 seconds or more. But two of those came on screens that the Bears diagnosed and prevented him from throwing. Griffin was sacked three times.

"Everybody wants to dissect every play," coach Mike Shanahan said. "You put him in different situations. ... He took a couple of sacks instead of throwing it away, different things that will help him throughout the season. Every time he goes into a game situation, there are going to be constant learning experiences. You're hoping that you don't make the same mistake twice."

A large part of Griffin's game is keeping plays alive. Indeed, on a third-and-5 in the second quarter, Griffin looked left, went through his reads, found no one open and took off around right end for 15 yards.

"I try to make sure I don't rely on my legs too much," said Griffin, who will play into the third quarter vs. Indianapolis on Sunday but won't play in the Aug. 29 preseason finale vs. Tampa Bay. "On the long run, I did exhaust all my reads, a hole flashed and I took off. Having the ability to run helps you in those situations. It helps guys get open. ... No one coaches [the defense] what to do after three seconds after the quarterback's broken the pocket."

The one time he tried to make something out of a bad situation resulted in a lost fumble. A blitz that wasn't picked up by running back Alfred Morris forced Griffin to scramble up into the pocket. As he stumbled forward, the ball swung wildly. Griffin started to go to the ground, attempting to throw to Morris. But Chicago defensive end Israel Idonije stripped the ball from behind.

Griffin said he had tucked the ball away, then spotted Morris. Had he not seen him, he said it would have been merely a sack.

"You just know you can't see everybody," he said. "I was going to protect the ball, try to throw it in the flat, got hit. They called it a fumble. That's it."

During training camp, Griffin's penchant for hanging on to the ball a while was noticeable. In the preseason opener vs. Buffalo, most of his passes were thrown quickly. What coaches don't want is for him to take unnecessary hits because he waited too long.

"You weigh the pros and cons," he said. "In the heat of battle, you figure it out as you go along. I'm starting to figure out when I need to get rid of it. ... I've got to know when to make the play and when not to try to make a play."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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