ASHBURN, Va. - Ten days after the Washington Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III, it was finally time to see what the rookie quarterback could do.
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner and second overall pick practiced for the first time in front of the assembled media Sunday morning, as the team concluded its weekend-long rookie minicamp. Over 50 credentialed members of the media came to catch a glimpse of the player the Redskins believe could change their fortunes for years to come.
Under an overcast sky, all eyes were on Griffin, who donned a gold Redskins practice jersey with his familiar ‘Griffin III' nameplate and jersey number 10 on the back. He consistently displayed superb arm strength, accuracy, and footwork while running a stripped-down version of the Redskins offense in 7-on-7 drills.
As impressive as Griffin's physical traits are, those alone aren't the reason why the Redskins are over the moon since his drafting. His charisma, intelligence, and ability to quickly grasp Shanahan's playbook has seemed to already wow everyone from the coaching staff to his fellow rookies.
Put all of that together and it's no wonder why head coach Mike Shanahan didn't waste any time declaring him the team's starting quarterback.
"He's the starter," the coach proclaimed after practice. "Period."
"He's ahead [of schedule]," he said later. "Very few people can take as much verbiage [from the playbook]. Robert was able to pick it up very quickly and it showed on the field."
Shanahan also raved about Griffin's ability to run the offense without a bust in formations or a play call this early in camp. "I don't think I've ever had that in any minicamp that I've been involved with," he said.
Griffin, though, downplayed his knowledge of the long verbiage that is usually associated with a West Coast offense playbook.
"Actually, the verbiage is a lot easier than you think," Griffin said. "I'm not saying anybody can go out and do it, but it's different when you look at 14 words on a piece of paper and you have no idea what those 14 words mean. So when you get in the playbook and you get in the film room with the coaches once you actually know what that means, it comes to you a lot easier to where if you forget the back half of the play you know it in your head just because you've gone over it so many times in the film room."
Many of Griffin's intangibles that draft experts lauded him for have already seemed to show themselves early, one of the many reasons why he's been a huge hit so far with the Redskins.
On Sunday, Griffin was his usual, jovial self, cracking jokes to media and teammates alike. He joked with reporters that he ate a burrito with backup Kirk Cousins, but that it "wasn't the same burrito - just to clear that up."
Coming off the practice field, Griffin walked just behind one of his fellow rookies, third round center/guard Josh LeRibeus, and greeted him with a high-pitched "LeRibeus!" and a laugh. LeRibeus turned around and returned the favor with a cackle.
"He's a great guy," LeRibeus said of his new quarterback. "Feels like he came in and he already knew the damn playbook...His throws are beautiful and I love snapping to him. At that very first day of practice, he came in and was throwing. It just looked like he was hitting all the receivers. Even if he didn't know all the plays, he pulled it off great."
His rookie teammates also cited his humble and hard working nature as a reason why he's been able to earn respect early in mini-camp.
"[He's a] real humble, real cool, down to earth type of guy," added sixth round running back Alfred Morris. "[With him] getting all the publicity and all the stuff that he does get, you wouldn't think a guy like that would stay the way he is. He's still humble, and he's still down to earth. I'm glad I got the chance to meet him."
Now that he's won over his coaches and rookie teammates, now it's time for Griffin to win over the veterans. He'll get that chance next week when Griffin returns to Redskins Park for OTAs.
"I can't come in flamboyantly, and I don't plan to do that," Griffin said. "[I have to] come in and earn the guys respect. Even if they say you've already got it, you've still got to go out and earn it."