NFL

Shanahan balances coach, son roles

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan of the Washington Redskins looks on prior to the start of their game against the Dallas Cowboys
Kyle Shanahan is trying not to be the 'middle man' between RGIII and his father.
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RICHMOND, Va. (AP)

After the last of his 21 snaps in 11-on-11 drills Thursday, Robert Griffin III grabbed a drink and stood next to Kyle Shanahan. The two chatted as practice continued, the Type-A 23-year-old quarterback and the Type-A 33-year-old offensive coordinator — who happens to be the son of Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan.

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''My goal is to try and not to be the middle man,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ''Middle men mess things up. I'd rather those two communicate to each other.''

Nevertheless, he's in the best position to feel the emotions on both sides of the great Redskins training camp debate: the head coach being cautious with a star player returning from major knee surgery vs. the frustrated quarterback and wants to do more.

''I understood his frustration. I'm just as frustrated,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ''Everybody wants him out there. Your starting quarterback, we all want him out there to play. It's hard, me being young and everything, I want him out there the very first day, but I don't have as much experience in this.

''The main thing is we can't risk getting him hurt. And as hard as it is, as frustrating as it is for him, myself, the head coach, every player out here, it's what we've got to do.''

Griffin completed 14 of 15 passes Thursday against a scout team defense. Among the highlights was a bootleg rollout to the right that ended with a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Fred Davis.

Griffin threw the ball better than the day before, when he took his first 11-on-11 snaps of camp after being limited to 7-on-7s. Once again, there appeared to be no problems with his knee.

''Robert works as hard as you can work,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ''He's done his rehab the right way, and that's why he's been able to come back so much earlier than expected. Now it's a just the grind of getting back and getting the rust off and getting as many reps as possible without jeopardizing anything.''

Assuming Griffin is ready for the start of the regular season, Kyle Shanahan will again get the creative joy that comes from designing plays for one of the most dynamic talents in the league. One of the big NFL-wide questions this year will be to see what schemes defenses have concocted to counter the zone-read attack that Griffin runs so well.

''I'm looking forward to see how they do it,'' Kyle Shanahan said. ''There's a lot of smart coaches out there. Guys can stop anything they want to stop. ... The key is, what are they going to do to stop it? And what in the defense when they do stop it do they make more vulnerable?''

This is the fourth season that the Shanahans have worked together, and it's still not always easy for Kyle to separate ''dad'' and ''coach.''

''It is kind of awkward having your boss be your dad,'' he said. ''I try to avoid admitting that all the time on the field and stuff, but I've gotten used to it. It was our first time working together, so we do see football a little bit different. And working with each other now, going on four years, he knows how I see it, I know how he sees it, and I feel we both helped each other get better.''

Which leads to the question: When they see things differently, does Kyle ever prevail?

''I like to think I do, but it's very hard work,'' he said. ''You've got to be very persistent about it, and you'd better have back-up to show him on tape, you'd better be prepared to explain yourself. ... And even though we have some, I think, constructive arguments together, just like most people do, I definitely think it's made me better, and I think it has with him too.''

Notes: LB Brian Orakpo bruised his right quad muscle during practice. ... The Redskins signed free agent LB Quan Sturdivant.

Tagged: Colts, Jets, Redskins, Robert Griffin III, Robert Griffin

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