WASHINGTON – RG3, the rehabber.
RG3, the revolutionary quarterback.
RG3, the leader.
Really, is there anyone else worth watching at Washington Redskins training camp?
Well, yes, there is, but they're mostly just underbrush when compared to Robert Griffin III, who led the Redskins to their first division title in 13 years, won the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year award and messed up his right knee along the way.
Griffin is determined to be ready for Week 1 of the regular season and has been cleared by doctors to practice. Even if it is in a limited capacity, he'll command more attention than anyone on the field.
1. RG3's KNEE: Griffin had reconstructive ligament surgery a few days after reinjuring his knee multiple times in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Since then, he and the Redskins have vacillated endlessly over the state of his rehab, but the doctors gave Griffin and team a boost by clearing him to work out after Shanahan said RG3 would "set a record for coming back." The QB himself proclaimed he was "all in" for Week 1 of regular season. But Shanahan said RG3 will "never" play if less than 100 percent. RG3 made it clear he's really not quite "all in" for Week 1, saying he wouldn't compromise his career to rush himself back. No one really knows until he tests the knee for the first time under competitive conditions. One thing is certain: The Redskins need RG3 healthy, because they're not the same team without him.
2. RG3's OFFENSE: Once RG3 is practicing and playing again, the Redskins have vowed to continue full-speed ahead with the same innovative zone-read offense that flummoxed defenses a year ago. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Griffin's designed runs — or at least the threat of them — kept the QB safer in the pocket because pass-rushers couldn't make a beeline for the pocket. Griffin needs to make wiser choices to avoid injury when he does run, sliding more and darting out of bounds when the yards aren't important. Also, defenses have had an offseason to study the zone-read, so the Redskins will inevitably have to make adjustments to stay one step ahead in the weekly chess matches that make up an NFL season.
3. RG3'S TEAM: RG3 is more than just a quarterback, he's already the heart and soul of the team, having firmly established himself as a leader with his words and deeds after being elected as a captain midway through last season. That role will only increase during his second year as he learns which buttons to push to keep any wayward teammates from slacking off. He already knows what sound bites his adoring fans want to hear and displays a maturity not often seen from a 23-year-old in the NFL. And, sorry ladies: He married his longtime fiancee this month.
4. ROOKS IN THE SECONDARY: Strapped by a salary cap penalty from the NFL, the Redskins couldn't afford to spend big to improve a defense that ranked 30th in the league against the pass last year. They will instead rely on an eclectic mix of draft picks: second-round cornerback David Amerson, fourth-round safety Phillip Thomas and sixth-round safety Bacarri Rambo. Each is talented, but each has a college backstory that involves a performance drop-off, injury or suspension. All three will be in the mix for playing time, and it will be a disappointment for the team if at least one isn't contributing regularly in the season opener.
5. NEW DIGS: Shanahan is bucking the trend of NFL coaches who are opting more and more to stay home for camp. The Redskins are hitting the road, setting up shop in Richmond, Va., after a decade of staying put at their year-round headquarters in the Virginia suburbs near the nation's capital. Shanahan likes the notion of getting away, saying it helps the players' focus, and the team was able to leverage taxpayer money out of the state legislature to help build state-of-the-art facilities. Had the lawmakers not ponied up, the team would have seriously looked at leaving Virginia altogether for Maryland or the District of Columbia.
Online: AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
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