RICHMOND — Robert Griffin III excited the crowd of thousands here Thursday even though his ongoing recovery from right knee surgery prevented him from fully participating in the first practices of training camp.
The Washington Redskins’ star quarterback received the loudest ovations of the team’s Richmond debut when he took the field for the morning walkthrough and the afternoon practice. And he won even more cheers during the afternoon session when he scooped up a loose ball during team drills and playfully raced upfield.
Overall, Griffin’s first participation in a team setting since last postseason was a success.
“He did a very good job coming into that situation for the first time in awhile,” coach Mike Shanahan said.
Griffin took 8 of 10 offensive snaps during 7-on-7 drills. He performed positional drills at the start of practice. He handed off, dropped back and made a variety of throws. And during the special teams’ portions of practice, he went through the script of 11-on-11 plays on his own.
The crowd of 4,000 in the morning and 6,100 in the afternoon cheered his every move and occasionally chanted his name. They were most excited by a play during afternoon team drills that Griffin wasn’t even supposed to be a part of.
Linebacker Bryan Kehl intercepted a pass near the sideline by backup Kirk Cousins. Fullback Darrel Young chased after Kehl, and Griffin, who was watching the play, also joined pursuit. It’s common for the entire offense — even players who aren’t involved in the play — to chase down a defender returning an interception during practice.
Kehl lost the ball somehow, and it bounced to Griffin. The dual-threat quarterback reversed field and juked through defenders, playing to the crowd. It was a light moment that belied the consternation that has surrounded his injury and rehabilitation.
The team did not make Griffin available to reporters after practice; his next scheduled media session is Monday.
Shanahan, meanwhile, echoed what Griffin said Wednesday about the importance of their relationship.
“Part of any football team is relationships, and people have to trust each other,” said Shanahan, who was widely criticized by media for not removing Griffin from Washington’s playoff loss to Seattle on Jan. 6 after Griffin was noticeably hobbled in the first quarter.
“What I’ve asked Robert to do is just be as honest with me as he possibly can. I think Robert sees this year how important being honest with each other is. That’s what we have to do. I told him I’ll be as straightforward with him as I possibly can be with him, and I’m hoping that he gives me the same. And if you have that within your organization, then you have a chance to do something especial. If you don’t have that relationship, the chances of being very good or winning the Super Bowl aren’t very good. “
Shanahan confirmed he does not plan to play Griffin in preseason games. The short week following the Monday night game against Pittsburgh on Aug. 19 is problematic, but more importantly, Shanahan wants to be cautious with Griffin.
Shanahan is waiting for Griffin to be able to practice at a “game-type tempo,” he said. That likely won’t occur for at least two more weeks, he said.
“Even though he’s cleared, I’ve got to see it on the football field,” Shanahan said. “I’ve got to see it with drill work. It just doesn’t happen like that,” and he snapped his fingers.
“If you’re dealing with trainers, if you’re dealing with doctors, they can tell you when that knee is ready to go, but they can’t tell you when he’s ready to play because you’ve got to see that happen over time. In my opinion, you can’t take a chance in going back too quick.”