No sense fooling around with a talent like Robert Griffin III. Barely a week after the draft, the Washington Redskins are already proclaiming the Heisman Trophy winner their No. 1 quarterback.
Saying that Griffin has the ability to do things no one else has done in the NFL, coach Mike Shanahan wrapped up a rookie minicamp Sunday by putting RGIII squarely atop the depth chart.
”He’s the starter. Period,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan said Griffin will begin working with the first-teamers when the veterans reconvene for offseason workouts later this month. Fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins and last year’s starter Rex Grossman will share snaps to sort out the second- and third-string spots.
Shanahan said the Redskins didn’t go through all the trouble to get Griffin – trading three first-round picks and a second-rounder to the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 overall spot – just to have him play backup. The coach said he made the decision even before the three-day minicamp.
”We’re going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with,” Shanahan said, ”and we’ll watch him grow and we’ll do what we feel like he can do and what he does the best. … One thing the NFL is not used to is a quarterback with his type of speed and his type of throwing ability, so I think we can do some things that people haven’t done.”
With his announcement, Shanahan managed something that’s hard to do – overshadow Griffin himself. Sunday was the first chance for reporters to see Griffin practice in a Redskins uniform, an event that attracted some 60 members of the media to a 90-minute session consisting mostly of undrafted, unsigned players trying to earn a spot at training camp.
Griffin wore the familiar No. 10 that he wore at Baylor, with the moniker ”Griffin III” on the back. His shoes were gold with burgundy laces. He’s known more for his colorful collection of socks, but he went with the standard white. As usual, his sound bites were spot on.
”It’s been a while since we’ve been able to do football things,” he said. ”We’ve been doing combines and beauty pageants on pro days, so it’s time to get to football.”
Griffin referenced the challenges he might have as a rookie starting quarterback dealing with veterans. With his disarming smile, he said he even has extra pairs of his shoes, in case the vets want them.
”I can’t come in flamboyantly, and I don’t plan to,” he said. ”Come in and earn the guys’ respect. Even if they say you’ve already got it, you’ve still got to go out and earn it.”
The selection of Cousins raised eyebrows around the league – no team had taken two quarterbacks in the first four rounds since 1989 – but Griffin said he was given advanced notice from Shanahan that the Redskins were looking at making such a move to give the team solid, young depth at the position. Griffin and Cousins roomed together at the team hotel this weekend and will likely do so again at training camp.
”We went over the playbook together. There’s no issues there,” Griffin said. ”We’re both out there trying to get better, so we’re cool. We ate a burrito together.”
”Not the same burrito,” he added with a laugh. ”Just to clear that up.”
Cousins, a three-year starter at Michigan State, was no doubt hoping to be drafted by a team that would give him a realistic chance at a starting job in the near future. As it is, he realizes he’s likely to be stuck behind Griffin for the entire length of a four-year rookie contract.
”The cream always rises to the top, so if I’m as good as I hope to be someday, then I’m going to get that opportunity, whether here or somewhere else,” he said. ”But right now I have a great opportunity to develop and to learn and to grow.”
According to Shanahan, Griffin was everything a coach could love during the five practices that made up the minicamp. The rookie had studied in advance and arrived with a rudimentary knowledge of the playbook.
”You can see what an incredible athlete he is,” Shanahan said. ”I was impressed because the first day we didn’t have one bust with a formation or a play call, and I don’t think I ever had that in any minicamp that I’ve been involved with.”
Notes: The Redskins signed their two sixth-round draft picks: RB Alfred Morris from Florida Atlantic and T Tom Compton from South Dakota. … They also signed five college free agents: WR Brian Hernandez from Utah, DL Delvin Johnson from Marshall, WR Samuel Kirkland from Kent State, OL Nick Martinez from Oklahoma State and TE Beau Reliford from Florida State. … The team waived college free agents DL Vaughn Meatoga and WR Kelvin Bolden. … Third-round draft pick Josh LeRibeus, mostly a guard in college, was used as a center during the rookie camp.