ASHBURN, Va. — Robert Griffin III stood at his locker and answered five consecutive questions about sliding.
“I could keep going over this, over and over,” the Washington Redskins quarterback said with a touch of good-natured exasperation. “Gah! I slid correctly on the third time.”
Coach Jay Gruden also faced five questions about Griffin’s far-from-graceful sliding technique. His reactions to question No. 5: “Robert can’t slide?” ”Really?”
Griffin’s self-preservation — or lack thereof — is one of those topics that just won’t go away. Griffin on Wednesday acknowledged that he put himself on the line a bit too much when he took some big hits while scrambling in open field against the Cleveland Browns on Monday night.
“That intensity you have for the game makes you who you are,” he said. “It’s just, for me, the second game of the preseason, I just can’t do that.”
Griffin repeatedly stressed that he executed “a successful slide” the third time he ventured upfield against the Browns, but his technique was far from elegant. He even got up with a slight limp, making it appear that he had hurt himself on the slide, but he said that bit of gimpiness came from getting kneed on a sack two plays earlier.
Gruden was both understanding and a little perplexed by his quarterback’s plight. The coach understands it’s sometimes hard to execute the perfect slide with would-be tacklers approaching, but it’s a skill he’s never had to teach because so many athletes mastered it way back in early childhood.
“I’m new to this. I never had to practice a slide. I played baseball,” Gruden said. “He played baseball. It should be a little bit more natural. … He needs to be a bit more fluid with his slides.”
Gruden said it could reach a point where he has to order up some special sliding training just for Griffin.
“I guess Rex Ryan brought in a sliding coach down to the New York Jets to help (Mark) Sanchez,” Gruden said. “Maybe that’s an option. I don’t know if it helps or not. … He runs so fast and everything’s happening so fast around him, with things flying all around him at different angles, that sometimes it’s not going to be very natural, but maybe there is a point in time we teach it. Not today. Not tomorrow. But maybe sometime.”
Gruden joked about his own sliding skills from his playing days — “I usually just got killed; that’s why I limp a lot” — but he reiterated Griffin’s value to the franchise and the need to keep the QB healthy for 16 regular season games. Griffin has had reconstructive surgery twice on his right knee, and his teammates don’t want to see him running with abandon in an exhibition.
“Was it tough to see? Absolutely,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Do I think he’ll learn from it? Yeah, I hope so. … He wants to show everybody how tough he is, probably more so than he needs to.”
Gruden was asked if the sliding issue is getting a bit overblown.
“Robert’s sliding is only a big deal if he gets injured in the process,” the coach said. “You know, I’ve seen guys get hurt trying to slide. One time I almost broke my wrist trying to slide. The guy hit me in the wrist. I said, ‘I should’ve just stayed up and took it like a man.’ … It is an issue if he gets injured. It’s not an issue if he doesn’t.”
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