- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2012

In rookie minicamp earlier this month, Robert Griffin III already had the chance to prove to Mike Shanahan and the rest of the Washington coaching staff why he deserved to be the Redskins’ first-round draft pick.

But Monday at Redskins Park, where the squad had its first organized team activity of the offseason, the Heisman Trophy winner had another, maybe more intimidating group to please — the Redskins’ tried and true.

“With rookie minicamp, you’re more there to try to show coach, ‘Hey, the team drafted me, I’m as advertised,’ ” Griffin said. “But with the vets, it’s more of, ‘I can help this team win, show them why coach has so much confidence in you.’ “

Shanahan expressed his assurance in Griffin’s abilities when he announced in early May the 22-year-old would be the starting quarterback. Along with that distinction, though, came the task of not only discovering how the Washington offense operates but also learning how to lead a team composed of those who have long been making a living on the football field.

From the very first snap Monday — a smooth handoff to Roy Helu — Griffin appeared to be well on his way to mastering both.

Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) and Rex Grossman, the starter for most of the 2011 season, share a moment during the first organized team activity. Griffin was the Heisman Trophy winner last year at Baylor. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) and Rex Grossman, the starter ... more >

“We got him here to be that guy. He’s our guy,” wide receiver Santana Moss said. “Right now, he’s doing all the things he needs to do to show us that, ‘Hey, day-by-day, that I learn and grasp some more, that I’m going to be all that I can be for you guys.’ “

The workout began with a series of timed drills for different position groups before progressing into two sets of 11-on-11 matchups. Griffin looked calm and collected in the backfield after each snap. Though he’s the new kid on the block, in Monday’s practice he looked anything but.

To tight end Chris Cooley, who is starting his ninth season with the Redskins, Griffin’s comfort is a product of a work ethic that hasn’t seemed to falter.

“We’ve been back just working together as a team. He stays after for an hour and throws to guys,” Cooley said. “His ability to be great for us and to be great early will be to understand what we’re doing offensively, and will be able to build a trust with the guys he’s around now. I think he has all the skills to do that.”

Griffin said he reviews the playbook every night in order to prepare for the big job with which he’s been entrusted. But he also concedes that being successful is just as much about doing as it is about studying.

And for a guy who is just beginning to see the things from the pages of his playbook finally materialize on the field, Griffin was pretty quick on his feet.

In 11-on-11 play Monday, the quarterback’s agility helped him easily connect with his often wide-open receivers on the rollout, and he appeared to already be in sync with many of them.

But despite Griffin’s eye-catching athleticism and track record, the Washington veterans also are impressed by what they’ve seen off the field.

“He’s very humble, you know, very respectful … not coming in feeling like he’s entitled to anything,” linebacker London Fletcher said. “He’s willing to work, he works hard, he’s in here early and he’s in his playbook. There are some first-round draft picks, especially high guys, they come in and feel like things should be given to them. That’s not the case with him.”

After each drill, Griffin was greeted with pats on the back and high-fives from the teammates with whom he’s already built a strong rapport.

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