Rookie QB stays calm before his NFL debut

ASHBURN -- The preseason barely revealed what Robert Griffin III could do, leaving a bit of mystery about the Redskins' plans. In three days the curtain will be lifted. Gone will be the vanilla scheme of the preseason, replaced by the true intent of the offense.

It's time for Griffin to show what he can do.

That's what everyone says. Except, of course, for Griffin.

- John Keim

» Safety Brandon Meriweather sprained two ligaments in his left knee and will miss two to four weeks, coach Mike Shanahan said. Meriweather injured his knee in practice Monday, hurting the MCL and the PCL. Meriweather injured the same knee in the second preseason game vs. Chicago and missed the final two preseason games. "He was fine until [Monday]," Shanahan said. "He was practicing 100 percent. It was a freak accident. ... He feels more optimistic than that, but the doctors felt it would take time." Second-year DeJon Gomes said he took some reps with the starters in practice Wednesday, though he wasn't sure yet whether he would start. Reed Doughty is the other option. With the Saints' emphasis on the pass and with major weapons in tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles, the Redskins need strong play from the safety position. "DeJon is a natural football player who is very smart," Shanahan said. "He has improved a lot."
» Linebacker Brian Orakpo and left guard Kory Lichtensteiger both practiced in full. The only player who was limited, Shanahan said, was nose tackle Chris Baker (ankle). Shanahan said the Redskins will use full pads in practice Thursday, when he will get a better chance to see what Lichtensteiger can do. "If there's no setback he has a good chance to play," Shanahan said. "I can't tell if he'll play every snap. We'll have to wait and see."

"I don't try to go out and show anything or prove anything," Griffin said. "Just go out and play and have fun. That's the approach I'm taking rather than now it's time to show what I've got. ... If you try to do too much a lot of times you'll mess up."

But Griffin finally will be able to show what he has. In the preseason, the Redskins didn't call any designed runs, and he attempted only 31 passes. He did escape the pocket a couple times for nice runs, but his legs weren't in play. The Redskins want to keep that part of his game a secret, though it's clear they will use some of what Griffin did at Baylor. That means more legs, whether it's a zone read option or quarterback draw.

That doesn't mean Griffin isn't curious himself about how Sunday's opener vs. New Orleans will go.

"I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how some of this stuff we do works out," he said. "Hopefully it'll work out extremely well. I'm trying not to get too antsy."

He's succeeding.

"He walks around like it's no issue," tight end Fred Davis said. "I forget sometimes [he's a rookie] the way he carries himself. ... He's very mature and low key."

Griffin said as a sophomore in college he tried, in college vernacular, to get too "crunk" after a lifetime of staying calm. Once he realized his mistake, he returned to staying even keel in the huddle and on the field.

And he's able to stay that way because of his preparation.

"If I came out here cold every day and said that I would rely on what God gave me to help me make it through everything, I wouldn't be as confident," Griffin said. "I do prepare. I take care of what I'm supposed to, and that helps me come out there and make sure I can be confident and go in that huddle with that calmness."

The Saints' defense is enduring a transition from former coordinator Gregg Williams to Steve Spagnuolo. But that won't change the Saints' approach Sunday: Regardless of who's in charge, they will be trying to fool Griffin into mistakes.

"The biggest thing is you know what you're looking for," Griffin said. "The general thing that defenses try to do to young quarterbacks is try to confuse them. It's know what you're looking at. They can play around over here all they want if I'm supposed to look over there. You have to make sure you rid your mind of the things that aren't important on a play and just make sure you're on top of what you need to be on top of. [The Redskins' defense] has been doing all kinds of crazy stuff to get me ready."

And now it's time to see how it pays off -- in his parents' hometown no less.

"He's a winner," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said in a conference call. "You figure it's only a matter of time before he takes the league by storm."