Robert Griffin III goes low-key in latest chance at Redskins starting quarterback job

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Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) flips the ball back to the referee as he walks to the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 14, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


ASHBURN, Virginia — Robert Griffin III isn't saying much these days, even though he is again the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

His coach continues to speak volumes.

Griffin used to be good for at least one good laugh-out-loud quip per week when he wasn't stirring things up on social media, but his news conference Tuesday was again stocked with rote answers and clichés such as: "We've got to make sure that as a team we go out there ready to play."

He hasn't written a Facebook or Twitter post since a round of Happy Thanksgiving wishes last month, and he said he'll stay away from both until the season's over.

"For me, anything that I was saying, whether it was positive or negative, it was getting twisted and turned against me and against this team," Griffin said. "I felt like I shouldn't say very much."

Griffin has been given the starting job for the third time this season, each time under different circumstances. He was the undisputed franchise QB coming out of training camp, but he dislocated his ankle in Week 2. When he returned, he played poorly and was benched after three games.

Now's he back once again, getting the call for Saturday's game as the Redskins (3-11) host the Philadelphia Eagles because Colt McCoy has a sprained neck. McCoy was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

Gruden said he just wants someone to "take the position and run with it." Griffin wouldn't take the bait when asked about that statement.

"My goal is always to go out there and be the guy," Griffin said. "And that's my only focus. I'm not really worried about anything else."

Gruden has been candid about Griffin's play all season, but that's been the standard mode of operation for the first-year coach. On Tuesday, when the coach was asked why Griffin has struggled to grasp some of the fundamentals of drop-back passing, Gruden blamed it on inexperience, pointing out the lengthy careers of accomplished quarterbacks Eli Manning, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees as compared to third-year QB Griffin.

"This position is very difficult, especially when you're learning new concepts with a new system," Gruden said. "It takes time. So it's important for us to try and have some success on first and second down so we don't have to drop back and throw it 30 times a game, and have a lead, so we don't have to worry about it. But, eventually, when you get behind, you get in third down, you get behind the chains, those have to be accomplished — the drop-back reads and progressions have to be accomplished, and that's something we're fighting through right now."

If Gruden appears to single out Griffin, it's because that's the player he's asked about the most. Here, for example, is what the coach told Philadelphia reporters Tuesday when asked about ex-Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson, whose production has tailed off in recent weeks.

"I'm a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of guy," Gruden said, "and lately we haven't seen the DeSean we need to see."

If there is animosity between Gruden and Griffin, it's not persistently evident when the two interact. The two talked, laughed and joked off the side during the special teams portion of Tuesday's practice. The chat ended with Gruden playfully miming a punch to Griffin's face, with Griffin laughing.

"I don't expect perfection from him," Gruden said. "But we want to see improvement from a weekly basis."


AP NFL websites: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL


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