My photo of RG3 at training camp Thursday at Redskins Park.
ASHBURN, Va. — For the Washington Redskins, RG3 must be more than the franchise — if only because they gave up the proverbial franchise to get him.
As the Redskins premier wideout Santana Moss put it to me after Thursday afternoon’s training-camp practice, “You don’t often get Michael Vick and Cam Newton all balled up in one.”
But The Franchise — aka Robert Griffin III, aka RG3 — had a tough go of it Thursday at Redskins Park.
Griffin threw two interceptions (even if one was receiver Brandon Banks’ fault, who appeared to miss RG3 checking into a different play).
But more than that, RG3 seemed to struggle to make swift decisions in the pocket, and seemed to run into a tackler whenever he took off to run.
Everybody knew Griffin was going to have days like this in training camp. His coach and teammates had his back afterward.
“Ya know, quarterbacks do throw interceptions in the National Football League,” head coach Mike Shanahan told reporters. “Even the great ones do. That’s part of practice. You’re going to test yourself.
“But it’s very competitive out here. We’re trying to put players in situations that are game-like. We’re trying to put Robert in as many game-type situations as possible.”
His first real one is next Thursday night against the Bills in Buffalo, the pre-season opener for both clubs.
RG3 only is talking to the press only on a handful of days at training camp, and Thursday wasn’t one of them. Shanahan is talking, though, and he told QMI Agency in an interview that it’s all just a matter of time before Griffin gets it.
“We didn’t give up two No. 1s and a No. 2 if we didn’t think the world of him, both on and off the football field.”
What a lot of NFL observers are anxious to see, in addition to his rocket arm and renowned accuracy, is how much Griffin is allowed to run at this level. Is it safe to let him?
“Take a look at what Robert did in college,” Shanahan told me. “I mean, he ran over 600 times and protected himself pretty well. But this is the National Football League. These guys are fast. And if you don’t slide or run out of bounds, you’re going to pay the price.
“He knew how valuable he was to (Baylor), so he protected himself a lot. And sometimes in a big game he said, ‘Hey, I’ve got to muster it up, and I’ve got to go get a first down.’ That’s what you want out of a competitive guy. Elway was the same way. And Steve Young. They knew the times they needed a first down. And the great ones do.”
Washington’s top wide receivers — Moss, Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson — all told me Thursday how impressed they are with Griffin’s poise, leadership and, of course, his arm.
“We are going to expect a lot out of him because he’s our guy, and he’s who we’re counting on.
“But with that comes a growing period, and he’s going to have to grow up.
And we’re going to have be able to take those bruises and lumps with him.”
“Exactly. And it’s going to be like that, and we understand that.
“The only thing he’s going to have to get over right now is being a rookie — the speed of the game, and the whole (pass) pressure and everything. It’s a whole different ball game. Once he catches that, then all the other stuff is going to come to him.”
On Thursday night, Griffin was to get his turn performing a rookie-initiation skit in front of his teammates. He said the other day he probably was going to sing the old Motown hit, My Girl.
There’s a lyric in that song that goes, “I’ve got all the riches, baby, one man can claim.”
True enough with RG3. But at the NFL level, his riches just need time to mature.
DOES BILLS VAUNTED D-LINE SCARE SHANAHAN? NOPE
ASHBURN, Va. — We asked Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan if the Buffalo Bills’ new deep, talented defensive line would have any impact on how long he plays RG3 next Thursday.
“How good are they?” he asked me in return Thursday at his post-practice news conference at Redskins Park.
“They think pretty good,” I replied.
“Well,” Shanahan cracked, “we might not play him then.”
Joking aside, Shanahan said playing in the NFC East exposes the Redskins to “year in and year out the best defensive fronts” in the NFL.
So, no — no impact.
Asked by another reporter specifically how long Robert Griffin III would play in each team’s exhibition opener at Ralph Wilson Stadium outside Buffalo, Shanahan said probably the same as he always plays his starting QB in Pre-season Game No. 1 — 12 to 20 snaps.