RICHMOND, Va. – In a span of a couple of minutes, Robert Griffin III overthrew a receiver on an out pattern, floated a ball deep into double coverage for an easy interception and misfired a screen pass.
A little later Monday morning, he scrambled right and made a "wow" play — throwing on the run to hit DeSean Jackson in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. Griffin also led a 12-play drive for a TD in the two-minute drill, a nice recovery from a poor performance by the hurry-up offense the day before.
From moments shaky to superb, it's been that kind of camp for the Washington Redskins quarterback. He looks exactly like what he is — a young player trying to master something different.
"That's what training camp is about," Griffin said. "You're going to have those days where it seems a little up and down."
The Redskins wrap up camp Tuesday, and in many ways it was a success for Griffin. He was actually a full participant — unlike last year, when his recovery from a knee injury limited his work — and his relationship with new coach Jay Gruden is off to a congenial start. Fans continued to squeal "R-G-3!" to beg for his autograph, and his mother was an everyday presence, often wearing a multicolored umbrella hat to shade the sun.
But he clearly has work to do in the latest steps of his transformation from a running quarterback to a quarterback who might occasionally run. Neither Gruden nor Griffin want to rely on the read-option that made Griffin such a success in 2012.
"There's a been a lot of good, there's been some bad — as most quarterbacks go through in training camp, seeing all the looks he's getting," Gruden said. "And overall I think he's making progress at a good rate. ... When you watch the tape every day he throws the ball 45 times, and 35 of them are pretty good decisions, and then there's a couple of them we have to correct."
Perhaps the most sobering stretch was the three days of joint practices with the New England Patriots, but it would have been unfair to expect Griffin and the Redskins to match the timing and polish of Brady and the perennial Super Bowl contenders.
Often in camp, Griffin held the ball too long and would have taken numerous sacks had hitting been permitted. Gruden attributes such moments to "stubbornness." He said Griffin needs to learn to throw the ball away, that not every play can be a touchdown.
It might have been a minor breakthrough, therefore, when Griffin threw the ball away when a second-down play failed to develop as planned Monday during the successful two-minute drill.
"Those are the little things you learn from," Griffin said.
Griffin's uneven camp has in no way suggested a quarterback controversy. Backup Kirk Cousins has had some sharp practices, but he is usually practicing against the second-team defense. Griffin is the undisputed starter.
"He's got the keys to the franchise in his hands," Gruden said. "And he's going to take us a long way, so he's got to make the right decisions, and we're counting on him to do that."
Griffin said it's tough staying patient during the learning process, especially when so much is expected of him.
"That's something that I'll always have to deal with," Griffin said. "It's not necessarily patience. It's about knowing that greater things are coming."
If nothing else, Griffin might have started a new Redskins trend with younger fans. When he met with a pair of cancer survivors and a Make-A-Wish child this week, he turned the tables by asking for their autographs.
"I tell you what, if I had met Michael Jordan (when I was growing up) and he asked me for my autograph, I think it would have been a shock," Griffin said. "So it's kind of flipping the script on them a little bit. But I think it means something to them, and if I'm their first autograph, then it's an honor for me."
Notes: Jackson returned to full practice after several days of nursing a sore left ankle. He expects to play next Monday against the Cleveland Browns. ... CB DeAngelo Hall was limited in practice a day after a tumble left him with a bruised back and muscle spasms. ... Gruden said TE Jordan Reed will undergo tests after missing a third consecutive day of practice with a virus.
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