RICHMOND, Va. (CBSDC/AP) — During a 7-on-7 drill in shorts at Washington Redskins training camp, Robert Griffin III rolled left and couldn’t find an open receiver. He started to scramble, saw a lane and ran for 15 yards.
Then he hit the turf, with typical RG3 flair. He performed a half-speed slide and rolled over to protect the ball.
The crowd went wild. It was perhaps the biggest cheer he’s heard for any play yet during camp.
“I just thought everybody would love it if I just slid in practice for once,” Griffin said. “And I went ahead and did that. I find it easier to slide in football pants than shorts. It was a little harder, but I slid and everybody liked it.”
Even coach Mike Shanahan laughed.
“I thought it was good. … It’s got to become automatic,” Shanahan said. “No matter what you do, there has got to be an emphasis there. The player’s got to believe in it. They have got to think it. If you use it do it in practice, it happens in games.”
It’s an odd sight when people drive hundreds of miles to holler for their favorite player to take it easy, but many in the crowd at camp are content to sit back and watch Griffin sit back and watch, yelling things like: “RG3, take care of that knee” and “We don’t need you to play in preseason.” They naturally cheer when he does get to throw, but they already know he can do that. They’re still waiting for him to master the slide.
Griffin has been kept out of the main 11-on-11 drills during the first few days of camp in the homestretch of his recovery from reconstructive right knee surgery. Protecting the knee is more important that perfecting the fade route, even if the quarterback is chomping at the bit to accelerate the process.
“It’s not easy to sit around and watch,” Griffin said Monday. “I call it ‘Operation Patience.’
Griffin said he has “no pain” and “no swelling” in his right knee. He says he can plant on the leg the way he did before he first injured it last season. He said he’s always forgetting to put on his brace, which he is supposed to wear during practices and games all season.
Beyond this season, however, Griffin isn’t certain he will continue to wear the brace.
“I don’t really worry about my leg anymore,” he said. “I just play football.”
To that end, Griffin feels he’s ready to do more than he is allowed. During the portions of practice devoted to special teams, he goes to a separate field and runs through a scaled-down version of the plays he missed during the 11-on-11s. He said got a “little bump-up” in work during Monday morning’s walkthrough, although Shanahan said that wasn’t the case.
Regardless, Griffin won’t join the 11-on-11 drills in the main practice until next week at the earliest.
“I feel like I’m ready for that — but we’re being real cautious right now and taking it slow,” Griffin said. “That’s what Coach wants to do.”
Shanahan said the unpredictability of 11-on-11 play makes it dicey for a player coming back from two bad ligaments.
“If you put a guy in there too early and he doesn’t have that full strength, you could lose that ACL, LCL just like that,” said Shanahan, snapping his fingers. “We’re not going to do that.”
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