Robert Griffin III stood out with his bright yellow cleats, but that didn’t matter.
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, coach Mike Shanahan and the horde of media members would have honed in on the future of the franchise anyway.
It was the third and final day of the Redskins’ rookie minicamp Sunday, and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner — the second overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft — finished with a pads-free, seven-on-seven scrimmage. He looked solid, as expected, and then was just as smooth in his first post-practice chat with reporters.
“It felt good,” said Griffin, who wore No. 10. “This is what we do. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to do football things. We’ve been doing combine and beauty pageants on pro days. It’s time to get back to football.”
Minutes later, Shanahan killed much of the drama that surrounded the quarterback position with the likes of Donavan McNabb, John Beck and Rex Grossman churning through the team’s quarterback turnstile over the past two seasons.
“He’s the starter. Period,” Shanahan said. “We didn’t move up in the draft to make him second or third team.”
The Redskins — a franchise that is no stranger to blockbuster moves during Snyder’s tenure as owner — pulled a big one before the 2012 NFL Draft. They sent their No. 6 pick to the St. Louis Rams to move up to No. 2, then added two future first-round selections and a second-rounder. The Indianapolis Colts took Andrew Luck at No. 1 and the ‘Skins picked up Griffin.
Most every repeition Griffin took Sunday was watched closely by the 50 credentialed media members in attendance, an unusually high number for a rookie camp. That should speak volumes about the national and regional interest in RG3. A handful of passes were either underthrown or a little too strong, but overall Griffin’s teammates exited the practice field under overcast skies impressed.
“He’s going to be great,” said linebacker Keenan Robinson, a fourth-round pick out of Texas. “He works hard. He studies well. He’s a smart guy, really bright. That sky’s the limit for him. I know he’s going to come and work hard in minicamps, OTAs and training camp. He’ll be ready to go when the season starts.”
But first, the Redskins must get Griffin under contract.
The rookie salary cap — instituted by the NFL before last season as part of the new collective bargaining agreement — will likely streamline that process, and Shanahan said he doesn’t expect any snags. Teams are now limited to four-year guaranteed contracts, and loopholes that allowed for little of a contract to count against the team’s overall cap have been removed. Players selected in the first round also have an option of a fifth year included in their rookie deals, but that option must be exercised by the end of the third year.
Griffin might not have a contract in hand, but he did get ahold of the team’s playbook.
“He’s been sharp,” said Samuel Kirkland, an undrafted receiver out of Kent State who signed a deal with the Redskins on Sunday. “He’s been in the huddle and knows the terminology. He’s shown great leadership. In terms of his accuracy, he’s been awesome. He’s been doing a real good job. All the hard work he’s been putting in learning the offense has shown.”
Griffin admitted there’s still plenty of schemes he has to get down before the team’s first full-team minicamp next month.
“I don’t know the playbook very well, but I have a dose of it,” Griffin said. “It’s nothing too groundbreaking. I’m just trying to learn the terminology.”
Shanahan compared learning a new offensive system to learning a new language.
“Some people are able to pick it up quickly,” he said. “Robert was able to pick it up quickly, and it showed on the field.”
Mike Shanahan and his offensive coordinator, son Kyle, have been criticized for running a complex offense that might not always conform to the signal caller they have behind center. At least with Griffin, Mike Shanahan said, that won’t be the case.
With a rare combination of arm strength and speed, that’s probably a good call.
“Obviously, any time you pick a player with the second pick . . . and you move up two spots to do it, you’ve got a game plan in mind,” Shanahan said. “We are going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with. We’ll watch him grow.”
Griffin said he understands the Redskins fan base is rabid. There’s even been speculation about what kind of luxury car he would purchase.
“I have not bought a car,” Griffin smirked. “No, I have not bought a Bentley. The only thing I bought since I was drafted was an iPhone 4S. That’s my big purchase.”
Griffin certainly didn’t sacrifice or maneuver as much to get that phone as the Redskins did to acquire him. But for a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006, Griffin could be more of a necessity than a luxury.