- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In what is shaping up to be an annual tradition, all eyes will again be on Robert Griffin III as he returns to the field after his first full offseason as a professional.

Griffin, who needed surgery to repair the LCL and ACL in his right knee at the end of his rookie season, spent much of last summer rehabilitating that injury and was not able to play in a game until the start of the regular season. His numbers were up and down; though he threw more passes, he completed fewer of them, leaving him with a lower quarterback rating, additional interceptions and practically the same number of passing yards.

This year will be significantly different, the team hopes; after a standout rookie year, Griffin regressed a year ago, only hitting his stride after nearly two months of the season had passed. In March, Griffin organized a series of workouts in suburban Phoenix for several of his offensive teammates, hoping that the extra time spent together would help carry into this season.

He also appears to be rejuvenated working with new coach Jay Gruden and offensive coordinator Sean McVay, and how they come together will manifest itself in the playbook. Gruden, who will call his own plays, has said that Griffin’s legs will be an asset, but he will not require the quarterback to run as frequently as he did during his first two years under then-coach Mike Shanahan and then-offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

What Griffin must now prove is that, regardless of what’s asked of him, he is capable of being a top-level quarterback — something that seemed certain after his record-setting rookie year but significantly less so last season.

Should something happen to Griffin, Kirk Cousins will return to serve as his backup despite significant discussion during the offseason of potential trades. Cousins stepped in when Griffin was benched for the final three games in 2013, and though he had an opportunity to audition for starting roles around the league, his haphazard decision-making and his overall struggles dampened his hype.

Filling out the stable of signal-callers is Colt McCoy, the onetime collegiate standout at Texas who has struggled to find a fit during four years in the league. McCoy started every game he played during his first two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, but fell behind Brandon Weeden in 2012 and spent last season as the backup to Colin Kaepernick with the San Francisco 49ers.

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