Redskins' Griffin III ready for preseason debut

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Photo - photos by Alex Brandon/AP
Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has struggled with certain aspects during training camp, including occasionally holding on to the ball too long.
photos by Alex Brandon/AP Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III has struggled with certain aspects during training camp, including occasionally holding on to the ball too long.
Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

ASHBURN -- Robert Griffin III knows what equals a good night for himself. He also knows it differs from what fans want to see.

His version: six to 12 plays, some points or at least one good drive, then call it a night.

The fans' version: 70-yard touchdowns to Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan.

When the Redskins play at Buffalo in the preseason opener Thursday, the Griffin era officially begins. Along with that comes an opportunity finally to watch him play in a Redskins uniform, to see what he might do in games. It's one thing to see Griffin in practice and measure his progress; it's quite another to see him against other teams.

At times Griffin has struggled with certain aspects. He holds on to the ball too long. Will that repeat itself in games? Griffin is still learning the nuances of an NFL offense. At Baylor, he did not have the depth of route progressions that he now must learn. It leads to indecision that only experience can conquer.

"It's a learning curve for everyone," Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. "In college, no matter what you do, guys can hold on to it a little longer than in the NFL. ... No matter what you learn in practice, you have to get rid of it quicker. He'll learn that in each game, too."

Keep in mind, too, that in practice the coaches are trying to give Griffin as many looks as possible. And they put him in as many situations as they can to prepare him for the season. What they run for him in games will be watered down. Right now, his best throws have been on out routes -- his powerful arm works well on those.

"We know it's going to be tough, so we're trying to put him in all these tough situations so he's prepared," Shanahan said.

Griffin already is prepared to run the ball. His speed and ability to wiggle through openings make him dangerous. His patience on zone-read plays has frozen linebackers in practice. How much will they run these plays in the preseason? Probably not a lot, but it will be a part of the offense during the regular season -- especially in the red zone.

The coaches have harped on his footwork when he drops back, needing him to get in better sync with the receivers. Being out of sync can lead to inaccuracy, even on completions as he might fail to hit a guy in stride. But those are parts of the game they're confident will be corrected.

What they don't need to correct is his mindset. Long before he was with the Redskins, Griffin earned rave reviews for his intangibles. His new teammates have found them to be true.

"You can tell he came in with a focus unlike a normal rookie," Redskins receiver Santana Moss said.

And that's why Griffin isn't putting too much emphasis on his preseason debut. He and the Redskins are building his game for something far more meaningful.

"I'll be more anxious than nervous. When you're anxious, you can't wait to go succeed," Griffin said. "I look forward to going out [and] being successful as an NFL quarterback for this franchise. So in that sense, yeah, I'm anxious to go out and get it started."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner