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Attention Aside, Redskins Treating Robert Griffin III As One Of Their Own

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

ASHBURN – The Heisman Trophy, the bounty of draft picks and the high-profile endorsements may have already built Robert Griffin III into a superstar.

Griffin III

To London Fletcher and his Washington Redskins teammates, though, the rookie quarterback is merely another player in the locker room.

“You know, when you’re in the locker room, guys just kind of view him as Griff, Robert, whatever,” Fletcher said Thursday, following a hearty laugh. “I call him Robert. I’m not calling him RGIII.”

Fletcher, considered one of the leaders of the defense, didn’t want to buy into anything that would fuel Griffin’s ego. It has nothing to do with putting the rookie in his place; rather, as training camp opened at Redskins Park on Thursday, Fletcher and his teammates already have accepted Griffin as an equal.

They appreciate his humility. They value his work ethic. Above all, they respect his leadership.

“He’s already emerged as one of the leaders on the football team, and not because of what position he plays,” Fletcher said. “You know, a lot of times you see or think that because you’re the quarterback, you have to be the leader on the football field, on the football team. His personality, his aura by himself is one of great leadership quality.”

Griffin hosted several offensive teammates down to Baylor earlier this month for approximately a week – something he said thought left a lasting impression on those in attendance.

One of them, receiver Santana Moss, said the trip served as a valuable bonding experience.

“We learned a lot from him – just how he was brought up and seeing him outside of this whole thing and how he handled himself,” Moss said. “It was real fun just being with those guys that you’re normally just here with during the season. You might have one or two guys that you hang with in the offseason, but we had a few guys that we had up there that had a chance to go out in Dallas and go out in Waco, you know, and just have a good time.”

Griffin, for his part, has tried to deflect the spotlight. He said Wednesday that his appearances are meant to raise awareness of his teammates, not just himself, and now that training camp has begun, he’ll be heavily invested in turning around the fortunes of the Redskins.

Even doing that, according to tight end Chris Cooley, is a move more befitting a veteran.

“He’s blended right in,” Cooley said. “I’m excited to work with him. I’m excited to have an opportunity to play in this offense. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’s going to do and the type of player he’ll become. But the chemistry is there with everybody. I just can’t say how much I know everyone’s impressed with him and how much he’s become a part of the team very quickly.”

The quarterback received a warm welcome from the fans when he took the field for his first practice Thursday afternoon, and he was serenaded by chants of his nickname on multiple occasions.

What he accomplished was hard to tell; players, per league rules, are not permitted to wear pads or hit on the first two days of training camp, making it hard to appropriately evaluate their performances.

There was no doubt in who the fans wanted to see – and who they’ll continue to want to see as training camp progresses.

“He’s a star,” cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. “Not quite a rock star yet, but he’s a star. Everywhere we go, I feel like people will come see him play. That’s just going to bring more eyes on the supporting cast. People just have to go out there and do their job too, but you know, he’s definitely going to bring a huge following when he goes.”

From award shows to television commercials, it seemingly hasn’t affected him yet.

“You know, being around this game for a number of years now, you kind of can tell when you meet guys who have it,” Fletcher said. “I think he’s on the way, just on the way he carries himself. Not a sense of entitlement – just wants to work hard, continue to try to improve his craft.”

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