ASHBURN — Robert Griffin III stayed on the field for extra work after practice Thursday afternoon. He was one of three quarterbacks wearing a yellow jersey and working with wide receiver Pierre Garcon, among others. Once he was finished, the Washington Redskins’ starting quarterback headed up the snaking concrete walkway from the field to the team facility, cut through the weight room and popped behind a podium.
He was asked where he is in the league-mandated concussion protocol and if he has been cleared to play Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens in the Redskins’ third preseason game.
“Yeah, I don’t know what coach has told you guys,” Griffin said, hours before a neurologist cleared him to play. “My job isn’t to give you updates on that stuff, so I’m not going to. I’m following their lead, following their protocol, and hopefully, I can get out there and play.”
He was asked how he is feeling.
“I feel good, you know? Just trying to take care of everything and be as cautious as possible,” Griffin said. “It’s not about anything but my family and them caring for me and my well-being. I know my teammates care about me and are asking about me every day, but like I said, I’ll just follow the protocol and see what happens.”
He was asked if he definitively had a concussion as a result of his rag-dolling last week against the Detroit Lions.
“You’ve got to talk to the people who report that stuff,” Griffin said. “I don’t report that stuff. I was in the locker room taking a shower getting ready to watch the rest of the game, so I don’t know.”
He also didn’t know when the concussion occurred, again, if it had.
“I just know I was in some pain and the trainers came out and that was it,” Griffin said.
So, moving into what is annually viewed as the most important preseason game for those not on the edge of being cut, Griffin had few answers. Last week against the Lions, he was hurled to the ground from the back, slammed into from the front and piled on from above. The final blows left him stiff on the ground and surrounded by trainers. He eventually departed the field early under a crooked skull cap and flashing a thumbs-up sign to fans — some of whom were booing.
Griffin was sacked three times. He was struck six. Without Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, the offensive line floundered. Williams’ backup, Willie Smith, had a laborious evening, as did rookie right guard Brandon Scherff. Griffin compounded the problems by once sliding the blocking coverage to the wrong place and another time standing rigid when there appeared an opportunity to move.
“Well, there’s always an element of ‘woulda, coulda, shoulda’ by everybody,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We can look at the tape and speed it up, slow it down, rewind it, fast forward, and say, ‘Hey, step up over here. Slide over here. Do this,’ but come game time, it’s important for us to continue to work on our protection, no question about it.
“But, Robert hopefully will continue to work on his progressions as far as finding lanes, stepping up, moving over, whatever he can do, maybe aborting, getting out of the pocket if need be. That’s just something he has to go through. Unfortunately in the game, the bull rush hit him and he got kind of grabbed by the three-technique, and on the other one, he didn’t see the backside bull rush on Willie. But, the third one he just stepped up, had a lot of time and he dropped the ball. That sack, that was not on the line.”
Gruden went on to explain that protecting the quarterback is an all-around duty shared by the quarterback, the running backs and the offensive line. Williams said earlier in the week communication was a problem for the front group.
Against Baltimore, the Redskins will again face a pass rush of significance. The Lions were eighth in sacks, third in points allowed and second in total defense last season. The Ravens have been known for defense since winning the Super Bowl after the 2000 season. They were sixth in points allowed last season. Baltimore is armed with keelhauling menaces like linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.
“Hopefully, we have some positive energy coming out of this game,” Gruden said. “That’s what we all want. We want some good things to happen, but if it doesn’t happen, we wouldn’t be the first team in America to be stifled by the Baltimore Ravens. We’re not going to lose sleep. We’re just going to continue to work, continue to progress and get ready for the Miami Dolphins [in Week 1].”
In searching for positives, Gruden has pointed out that the Redskins have rushed well and that backup quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy have moved the offense. That leaves Griffin discussing injuries, ineffectiveness and offering undefined answers.
Among the few clear things at Redskins Park is that Griffin is exercising caution with his long-term health in mind. He had a concussion his senior year at Baylor and another his rookie season with the Redskins.
“Yeah, I think that’s why we’re being cautious and I’m being cautious and going to see all the doctors and taking a thousand tests,” Griffin said, “because it’s about my family and my long-term health.”
He said he doesn’t point fingers when things go wrong, and gave no indication if he was irritated with or embracing Gruden’s decision to send him back out in the second quarter of the second preseason game, leading to the series in which he was injured.
“As we like to say, I just work here, man,” Griffin said.
It’s with this full-brewed tumult, already bubbling despite the year being only halfway through the preseason, the Redskins head to Baltimore to see if Saturday night will indeed be all right. Not much is indicating it will.