- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2014

Two days before his anticipated return to a starting role, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said he feels healthy and is thankful the team did not rush him back to the field too quickly.

Griffin was a full participant in practice Friday and Gruden said the team is still preparing for him to start against the Vikings on Sunday. Griffin said he felt ready to play last week against the Dallas Cowboys but is thankful the team held him back for an additional week.

“The Cowboys game would’ve been the game to come back according to the timeline,” Griffin said. “We just wanted to give it a little more time and just be smart about it. With the past, you learn from that. You learn from those mistakes, you learn from those trials and tribulations, and I thank Coach for keeping me sane and allowing me to be involved with the game plans and everything.”

Griffin dislocated his left ankle in the first quarter of Washington’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 14. During the nearly four weeks he was unable to practice, he said he charted plays and watched twice as much film as he usually would between games.

“My eyes were a little red, and my wife was wondering what I was doing,” Griffin said with a smile. “But you always work hard, so I wouldn’t put a number of hours on how much film I watched. It was already a lot. Just imagine not being able to do anything, sitting around. All you’re doing is watching film.”

The third-year quarterback kept tabs on Washington’s offense and its evolving playbook but also observed some of the league’s top quarterbacks at work. He specifically mentioned Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning as those he tried to watch during his rehabilitation process.

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Griffin first returned to practice and participated in individual drills following the team’s loss in Arizona. He ramped up to team drills the following week and has fully participated in all of the team’s practices this week. Gruden said Griffin’s return will slightly alter his playcalling Sunday.

“We are going to have different style of plays of Robert,” he said. “So, the game plan is what it will be. Everybody will just have to wait until Sunday to see the exciting game plan of the Washington Redskins with Robert Griffin III.”

Offensive coordinator Sean McVay said Griffin’s return will make an impact in the running game in addition to the passing game.

“It does a lot of things,” he said. “He obviously opens up some things in the running game where he’s an additional threat that the defense has to account for, some of those off-schedule plays. So it does give you some versatility offensively.”

Gruden doesn’t expect Griffin to play perfectly after missing the team’s previous six games. “Will he make mistakes? Of course he will,” Gruden said. Griffin stressed that he will rely on his teammates while continuing to adjust to game speed.

“If there is any rust, I’ve already talked to all the guys: I’m going to lean on them this week,” Griffin said. “This is a game that we need, we need to win it going into the bye week feeling good about what we’re doing. And the Vikings aren’t going to make it easy.”

Throughout the rehabilitation process, Griffin said he maintained faith in God and learned about himself as a person and player. He focused on the importance of red-zone production and paid special attention to Gruden’s playcalling tendencies near the goal line.

Griffin was “champing at the bit” to play last week, Gruden said. When he returns this week, however, there will also be some nerves. 

“Yeah I mean nervousness is normal,” Griffin said. “We all get nervous before big events, and I know there’s a lot of eyes watching us as we get back out on the field. Our job is to make it not about me. I don’t feel like it is. It’s about this team, it’s about us going to get a win on the road and going into the bye week feeling great. So I’m sure there’ll be a little bit of nervous energy out there on the field, but you turn that into good.”

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