Shanahan applauds Griffin's composure amid growing pains

David Elfin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Robert Griffin III has been the toast of Washington since he was drafted second overall in April. That didn't change after the second overall selection followed a three-and-out and a fumble by quarterbacking what proved to be the game-winning touchdown drive in the 7-6 preseason-opening victory at Chicago. Especially not when the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor exited with a 145.8 passer rating.
However, Griffin's second preseason game was not nearly as much fun. Sure, he completed 5 of 8 passes, but for just 49 yards. Sure, he kept a field goal drive alive with a pretty 14-yard run around right end on 3rd-and-5. But Griffin was also sacked three times, losing a fumble on one to set up Chicago's second touchdown. The Bears led 20-10 when Griffin and the starters exited at halftime en route to a 33-31 victory Saturday night at Soldier Field.
"I didn't see (Bears defensive end Israel Idonije) coming," Griffin admitted. "What I was actually trying to do there was throw the ball to the guy in the flat, who was open. (Idonije) just hit me and it came out. I should have tried to secure the ball in that situation, but once I was trying to throw the ball, if you get hit while you're throwing, it's kind of hard to have ball security. So, it's just something I have to learn from and make sure it doesn't happen again."
After nearly four months where Griffin could almost do no wrong, the new face of the franchise looked all too human.
"Two of those sacks were screens and we just have to learn just to throw those at the guy's feet," said Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan, who traded three first-rounders and a second-rounder to St. Louis for the right to move up four spots and draft Griffin. "The other sack, (Robert) tried to make a play and the guy right behind him hit him. Those are the types of experiences ... that he will get better at in time. And we have to protect him better, against an excellent defense."
The Bears do have a good defense, even with longtime standout linebacker Brian Urlacher sidelined. Julius Peppers was too strong for Trent Williams when the left tackle wasn't 100 percent after injuring his left foot against the Bills. And Tyler Polumbus, who's filling in for injured right tackle Jammal Brown, had more than his hands full with Idonije.
Peyton Manning's only drive against the Bears defense ended in an interception in last week's Denver-Chicago preseason opener. And for all his talent, the 22-year-old Griffin isn't a four-time NFL MVP like Manning. He's a rookie who played in the shotgun at Baylor.
"I think a lot of good came from this game," Griffin said. "It's not that I've never been in those situations before, it's just that sometimes you have to know when not to try and make a play. I think you learn the more you play. Against Buffalo, I didn't play very much (14 snaps). Today, against the Bears, I played a lot (23)."
Shanahan, who helped Hall of Fame quarterbacks John Elway and Steve Young win three Super Bowls, liked Griffin's composure under stress.
"I really liked the way he handled himself," Shanahan said. "He was very poised. He was cool, calm and collected. He gets the guys going. He never seems to lose his composure. That's the sign of a good quarterback."
--Aldrick Robinson spent all but the last week of his rookie year on the practice squad, but the sixth-round pick in the 2011 draft is making a strong bid to make the 53-man roster this summer. Robinson had two catches for 28 yards last week at Buffalo and he led all receivers with six grabs for 104 yards, including a 49-yard catch-and-run touchdown, at Chicago.
"Aldrick Robinson did a great job," Shanahan said. "He had a couple of big plays. That's what you want - you want guys who make plays, and make it tough on your decision about which way to go."
Another receiver who helped himself was Dezmon Briscoe. Signed off waivers from Tampa Bay on July 28, Briscoe had three catches for 51 yards against the Bears, including the 20-yard touchdown that gave the Redskins a late 31-20 lead. Briscoe led the 2011 Bucs with six touchdowns.

-- SS Brandon Meriweather injured his left knee in the first half at Chicago on Aug. 18. His status for the Indianapolis game on Aug. 25 is unknown.
-- OLB Brian Orakpo injured his left shoulder against the Bears. His status for the game with the Colts is unknown.
-- S DeJon Gomes returned to play after injuring his left ankle, but departed Soldier Field with a protective boot on it.
-- ILB London Fletcher didn't practice on Aug. 16 or play against the Bears because of an undisclosed illness.
-- DE Kedric Golston didn't play at Chicago because of an elbow injury.
-- RG Chris Chester didn't play at Buffalo or Chicago after spraining his left ankle on Aug. 6. He's expected to play against Indianapolis.
-- FB Darrel Young is expected to return this week after being sidelined with a hamstring injury since July 30.
-- WR Anthony Armstrong could face the Colts after not taking contact since spraining a shoulder on Aug. 2.
-- RB Roy Helu didn't play at Chicago because of tendinitis in his left Achilles'. His status for the Colts' game is unknown.
-- OLB Markus White didn't play at Chicago after fracturing a rib and bruising a kidney on Aug. 15. His status for the Colts' game is unknown.
-- OT Jordan Black didn't play at Chicago because of an undisclosed injury.
-- RB Tim Hightower could face the Colts after being held out of the first two preseason games while recovering from a torn ACL.
-- OL Kory Lichtensteiger had his left knee scoped on July 30 and isn't expected to play until the Sept. 9 opener at New Orleans.
-- OT Jammal Brown is on PUP after reinjuring his chronically ailing left hip while running gassers on July 25.
-- WR Lance Lewis has been sidelined since suffering a groin injury Aug. 2.

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