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Robert Griffin III Already Demonstrating A Veteran Mentality

By ZAC BOYER | zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – Robert Griffin III met his rookie classmates two weeks ago when they reported for their mini-camp, and he’s done his best to get to know the 67 veterans already with the Washington Redskins over the past 10 days.

Griffin

In terms of introductions, the quarterback found that his appearance last week on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” has been much more helpful – in ways both good and bad.

“You know, they were all laughing because I can beat box,” Griffin said, referring to his impromptu vocal performance on the show last Thursday. “Nobody beat boxes nowadays, and so I guess that’s just a rare thing, but you know, [it’s been] nothing too bad.”

Griffin’s story, by now, is pretty well-known. For the few teammates who don’t know the basics – Heisman Trophy winner, son of a military family, early college graduate – the quarterback learned the 10-minute segment made for a good first impression.

Things may be different on the field, and that’s what Griffin was trying to show Monday at Redskins Park, when the team united for the first of 10 voluntary spring practices known as organized team activities: the work ethic that made him a star in college will translate to the pros.

“This is early, so he’s got a long way to go, but just off of what he’s shown thus far, you can be excited that he’s gonna be the guy the first year,” receiver Santana Moss said. “He’s gonna be the guy soon, and we just know that this spotlight right now is gradually gonna get brighter. Hopefully, by that day when we kick the season off, there’s nothing to it. He’ll go out there and win.”

Griffin was, by head coach Mike Shanahan’s post-draft promise, the top quarterback during the nearly two-hour session. He worked with the top receivers, handed the ball to the top running backs and was protected by the top offensive line.

He threw the ball on target, showed a good understanding of the plays he was asked to run and had what appeared to be a smooth first day on the job.

“It felt like I had pretty good command with the offense,” Griffin said. “I knew what I was doing, knew where to go, and I could just play football, let loose.”

The attention placed on the 22-year-old quarterback thus far has been oppressive, but Griffin has shown no signs of breaking. In the nation’s consciousness since midway through last fall, when he was breaking records and winning games at previously downtrodden Baylor, Griffin has navigated it all with the demeanor of a 15-year veteran.

“You know, just watching some of his interviews on television, things like that prior to him being drafted and since he’s been drafted, you can obviously see the maturity, the leadership – all the different intangibles you would like in your quarterback,” said linebacker London Fletcher – a 15-year veteran. “He’s very humble, you know? Very respectful, not just coming in feeling like he’s entitled to anything. He’s willing to work.”

In the segment with Leno, Griffin addressed everything that’s made him popular – his college accolades, his splashy socks, his wedding proposal. Filmed in Los Angeles that day, Griffin then flew back across the country to continue working out with the Redskins this past weekend.

“He’ll be OK,” running back Tim Hightower said. “You’ve got to enjoy it, man. He’s worked hard for a long time. He deserves all the accolades and all the fun and things, the opportunities that were presented his way. I’m not one to tell him to calm all that stuff down. As long as he shows he’s serious about his business, hey, do whatever you want off the field.”

Appearing on a national late-night talk show is a big-time move, but leave it to Griffin to be able to make it appear more down-to-earth.

“They could get a little bit of my life without me having to say it directly to them,” Griffin said. “I think they could associate my life a lot better with a lot of the guys and it’s been great. I feel real comfortable in the locker room.”

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