QB not breaking down his plays like a rookie

ASHBURN -- Trent Williams remembered his first time in the huddle. He fought the urge to do one thing: vomit. And then the Redskins left tackle saw the way Robert Griffin III handled his first time on the field.

It was a little different.

"He handled himself like a vet," Williams said. "You couldn't tell he was a rookie. My first game I was so nervous. He was laid back just like he is every day. He commanded the huddle like he always does. He handled himself as good as anyone can expect him to."

Griffin only played 14 snaps vs. Buffalo in the preseason opener, and he attempted only six passes (completing four for 70 yards and a touchdown). But because he's the No. 2 overall pick and the face of a franchise, every play will be dissected -- not just by fans or media but by the coaches and Griffin himself.

And in those plays there were times, as Williams said, when he handled himself like a veteran. On one play, a naked bootleg was called, but Griffin noticed the Bills were going to send the weak-side linebacker to that side. So he audibled to a run by Evan Royster.

Griffin did not audible much at Baylor.

"It's something you have to get used to," Griffin said. "They've done a good job throwing the whole offense at me, and now that they're starting to game plan and break it down. 'If you get this specific look, you can audible to this play.' And that's really helped me to learn the offense first and then come back with the audibles instead of audibilizing to a play I've never run in my life. They kept it consistent with the way they introduced the offense, and I feel really good about it."

Another time, Griffin went through his first three reads, opted to stay in the pocket and finished the play by hitting his fourth option, receiver Pierre Garcon, for 18 yards. Griffin again didn't sound like a rookie going over the play. Nor was he anxious to use his legs after his first three receivers were covered.

"The thought never crossed my mind to run," he said. "I went through my first three reads really confident knowing the protection would hold up. At some point or another one guy is going to be open."

Said Redskins coach Mike Shan?ahan: "That's timing. The more you put him through it, the more comfortable he becomes."

The same is true of drop-back passes, another change from college. Griffin operated mostly in shotgun with occasional time under center. The Redskins likely will use a lot of shotgun with him, but he also will have to take more snaps from behind center, dropping back to pass. Other quarterbacks have said this doesn't take long to perfect, but Griffin is still adjusting.

"It's something you have to get used to getting your feet right," he said. "And my full speed is different than other full speeds. I have to make sure I have my feet right and technique sharp."

While working on his game, Griffin's confidence hasn't sagged. Or if it has, he has shielded that from everyone.

"I've never seen doubt in that kid's mind," tight end Chris Cooley said. "From day one he stepped in and said, 'I'm here to win games. I'm not here to see if I can be a good quarterback. I'm not here to see if things work out for me. I'm coming to the Redskins to win games,' and a lot of people really like that."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com