- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It may be just a preseason game, but Thursday night at FedEx Field is the first time we will officially see the unchained Washington Redskins when they face the New England Patriots.

It may be just a preseason game, but Thursday night at FedEx Field is the first time we will see an unwrapped Robert “SuperBob” Griffin III.

It’s the first time we will see SuperBob healthy and without a knee brace since that Baltimore game on Dec. 9, 2012, when he went down spinning in the air from a Haloti Ngata hit.

It’s the first time in five years the Redskins will take the field without being held back by Mike Shanahan.

After years of toiling in the Arena Football League and as an NFL assistant, it is the first game for Jay Gruden — brother of Super Bowl winning coach Jon Gruden — as an NFL head coach.

We’ll be watching DeSean Jackson fly down the field for the Redskins, instead of against them.

We get excited about preseason around here. We remember preseason heroes like Babe Laufenberg and local kid Marcus Mason. There are Redskins fans who are still convinced that Colt Brennan could have been the team’s starting quarterback.

Even the coaches will cling to preseason results when things are going bad. When defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was trying to explain what went wrong last year on the way to a 3-13 record, he seemed perplexed because, “We had a heck of a preseason.”

They did. They went 4-0.

Preseason is typically fool’s gold. But for a meaningless game, there is a lot going on Thursday night.

We will be watching SuperBob’s every move for any glimpse of the magic we saw in 2012. He didn’t step on the field last preseason, so we had no idea what to expect Week 1 against Philadelphia.

Based on what team president and general manager Bruce Allen said, whatever we see Thursday night should be better than what we saw from SuperBob last year the first time we watched him play.

“What you saw last year was almost a little disrespectful to the game of football,” Allen told ESPN 950 radio in Richmond. “It’s impossible to ask a player to perform well during the regular season if you haven’t practiced.

“Last year at this time [the season opener against the Eagles], he’s still rehabbing his knee, he’s not allowed to practice, he’s not allowed to work in team drills at all because he’s still rehabilitating himself,” Allen said. “We put him, really, on the spot by trying to do that. And this year he’s had a full offseason, his knee is 100 percent — knock on wood — and he’s had all of that, and that’s how you get ready to play a football season.”

Well, he’s had all offseason — minicamp, OTAs and several weeks of training camp — to get ready. So however vanilla the offense may look Thursday night, the quarterback should look good doing it.

SuperBob says he and the team are right where they want to be at this point.

“I think we’re coming along when it comes to chemistry and all those things,” Griffin said. “But, when you have as many new additions as we do, it’s going to take some time. We’re in a good place. We’re not behind, we’re not ahead. We’re right in a good spot for training camp and that will continue to grow as the season goes on.”

We’ll be watching Jay Gruden. We’re not going to see any insights into the offensive mind of the new coach, but we will see how he handles himself on the sideline as the head coach — his body language, his interactions with players and other coaches.

He told reporters his plan is to leave the starters in there for a series or two, “get a good rhythm for them, and then get the backups in there are find out who the best 53 are.

“As far as the game is concerned, I think we’re more interested in finding out who can play,” Gruden added. “We’re not trying to game plan as far as the scheme is concerned, we’re trying to line up and find out who can play.”

We’ll start with the quarterback.

Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 radio and espn980.com

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