Redskins hopeful with RGIII after lean years

Associated Press
View photos
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III walks to a morning practice at NFL football training camp at Redskins Park, Thursday, July 26, 2012, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III generated excitement among the veterans at the opening of Redskins camp on Thursday.

Only six current players made the playoffs with Washington and only two have won a postseason game for the franchise. The team was just 11-21 during coach Mike Shanahan's first two seasons.

The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner landed in Washington in a trade that sent three first-round picks and a second-round selection to St. Louis. Shanahan named him the starter before the veterans reported in May, and the old-timers seem pleased to have the 22-year-old Griffin at the helm.

"There's definitely a different feeling about this team," said 37-year-old linebacker London Fletcher, who won a Super Bowl and two NFC titles with the Rams. "We know it's going to be a process. We're not going to expect (Robert) to be a top-five quarterback (right away).

"He has a lot of notoriety and deservedly so because of what he accomplished at Baylor. He doesn't carry himself like I'm a Heisman winner, they traded all these picks for me, I'm better than you guys. So it's easy for guys to gravitate towards him for his demeanor."

Two-time Pro Bowl tight end Chris Cooley couldn't be more impressed with Griffin, who invited his pass-catchers to spend a couple of days with him in Waco, Texas, during the six weeks between the end of spring workouts and the start of camp.

"No one treats him like a rookie," Cooley said. "You can't. He's the starter for us. You have to treat him like a starting quarterback. There's nothing that he does that says, 'We should haze you.' He's been a real professional since the day he walked through the door.

"I'm amazed every day by the way he handles it, his ability to run this offense. He's done a fantastic job. I can't imagine being suited more for the position he's in."

Running back Tim Hightower, part of a Super Bowl team in Arizona with quarterback Kurt Warner four years ago, likes what he sees from Griffin. But he doesn't want the rookie to feel compelled to try to singlehandedly turn around the Redskins.

"He has a lot of expectations on him," Hightower said. "As teammates, it's our responsibility to rise to the occasion, help his transition, take some of that focus, some of that pressure off him.

"We're going to go as he goes."

Griffin, who competed in the hurdles in 2008 Olympic trials, can certainly go on the field. As a senior at Baylor, Griffin led the Bears to an Alamo Bowl victory while passing for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns and running for 699 yards and 10 scores.

Fletcher compared Griffin to Philadelphia's dual threat quarterback Michael Vick. He said the rookie's speed will "shock" opposing defense especially when combined with his "rocket" arm.

"He can make every throw, use his legs to extend a play," Redskins three-time Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "You feel like, 'We got him,' and the play's still going on. He brings that dynamic to the game, and we hate that as defensive players.

"I guess it all starts at quarterback. That's what everybody always says. We finally got one that we feel like can hold his own against some of these other guys in the league.

"We got a chance to compete."

Notes: Starting right tackle Jammal Brown was a surprising addition to Washington's physically-unable-to-perform list. Coach Mike Shanahan said that Brown aggravated his long-ailing left hip while running sprints Wednesday. Brown, 31, who was chosen for two Pro Bowls while with New Orleans, missed the 2009 season with the Saints after having surgery. He missed five games the past two seasons with hip and groin ailments. Shanahan said he doesn't know when Brown might return. Tyler Polumbus, who started two games in Brown's place last season, worked with the starters Thursday. ... FS Tanard Jackson (calf), who was signed from Tampa Bay, is also on the PUP list. Fellow free agent pickup Madieu Williams worked with the starters on Thursday, but Shanahan said that Jackson could be back as soon as Saturday. ... Running back Tristan Davis (knee) is also on the PUP. Hightower, the starting running back before he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 7, is being worked back into duty gradually but ran well on Thursday. ... Rookie cornerback Chase Minnifield, who tore an ACL on the last day of minicamp, was placed on the reserve/injured list.