QB keeps brain sharp by taking mental reps

ASHBURN -- In Robert Griffin III's mind, he's dropping back, executing a play fake, rolling the other way and scanning the field before unleashing a pass. In reality, it's Kirk Cousins who just did it. And it's how it will be until training camp begins in July. Even then, the Redskins aren't sure what Griffin will be able to perform.

So, for now, it's all about taking mental reps -- verbalizing the calls and visualizing how he would execute the play.

"You know the play and you know the defense you are going against," he said. "You need to know where you are supposed to be looking and what all your eligible [receivers] are. It's basically just paying attention."

Congressmen urge team to change name
Ten members of Congress are urging the Washington Redskins to change their name because it is offensive to many Native Americans. The representatives said Tuesday they've sent letters to Redskins owner Dan Snyder, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins sponsor FedEx and the other 31 NFL franchises. The letter to Snyder says that "Native Americans throughout the country consider the 'R-word' a racial, derogatory slur akin to the 'N-word' among African Americans or the 'W-word' among Latinos." Snyder has vowed that he will never change the name. - AP

While Griffin recovers from January knee surgery, he's limited to throwing with other rehabilitating players and watching the healthy ones work. He's still a week or so away from explosive sprinting and then a couple more weeks from cutting.

But he still needs to develop as a quarterback, especially as a passer. The passing system he ran in college demanded far less than what he has in Washington. While his legs wowed defenses last season, it's his arm that will eventually lead to a more explosive offense.

To help him reach that point, at least until his knee is healthy, Griffin will take mental reps in many ways. He'll do what he did as a rookie, going through the script of plays for the day, writing down what he has to do.

"This is where the year of playing and knowing the system a little better helps you," Griffin said, "so that you can make sure you actually get the mental rep and know you exactly what you are looking at every play.

"You know what you are supposed to look at and you are yelling it out before it happens. It helps you by looking at it from a different perspective, so that when you get out there on the field, you understand that you only need to look at this one guy on this play or this one guy on this play, and you go about it that way."

After the season ended, fellow Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman said Griffin would not be put behind too much by the lack of offseason work with teammates. His rationale: Griffin was a Pro Bowl player as a rookie -- when he lacked the knowledge he has now.

But even still, it's not an ideal situation.

"Sure it hurts," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. "But he's a student of the game. He's done a good job of coming in and looking at all our games and all our cut-ups, and we get a valuable work process through it all."

And if nothing else, Griffin's knowledge of the game should increase.

"Let me say this," Shanahan said, "Robert will come back here a few years from now and he'll laugh, saying, 'Oh my God, I thought I really did know a lot about the game.' That's as much of a jump as you make every year."

Note ยป The NFL moved its draft weekend to May 8-10 for next season and, though there's no word on what will happen in 2015, it's likely this is not a one-year change. The entire draft has been held in April since 1986. The last time it was held solely in May was 1984 (May 1-2), but the second half of the draft was held on May 1 a year later. The league year will still start on March 11 and the scouting combine will be held Feb. 18-25.