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RG3 won't use rust as an "excuse"

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RG3 won't use rust as an "excuse"

Due to the reconstructive surgery to his right knee eight months ago, Robert Griffin III did not play in the preseason and his work in training camp was very limited. He started the season opener against the Eagles and for the early part of the game he looked like a quarterback who needed some more practice.

His first pass attempt that counted (an early completion that was wiped out by a penalty) was thrown into triple coverage and picked off. Griffin, who threw five interceptions in all of 2012 and never more than one in a game, threw another pick early in the third quarter. The Eagles scored on the next play to take a 33-7 lead.

At that point, Griffin had completed 5 of 13 passes for 53 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. Many were saying he was rusty, just not in a groove after all of the inactivity. But Griffin, his coach, and his teammates wouldn’t say that.

“I think that's an excuse. I'm responsible for the way I play,” said Griffin when asked if he was rusty. “I didn't play very well in the first half so it's just the way it is.”

Mike Shanahan put it on the whole team. “No, it’s everybody, it’s not just one guy,” he said. “I’ll look at the film. We just couldn’t get any momentum.”

Leonard Hankerson, who would catch two touchdown passes from Griffin once the quarterback settled in, also wouldn’t pin any particular responsibility on his quarterback. "It's not on Robert. It's on everybody,” he said. “There's 11 guys on the field. All 11 weren't on the same page.”

Whatever it was, whether it was just Griffin or the whole offense, things got better after the second interception. At that point the Redskins’ only points had come from the defense. Behind Griffin the Redskins scored 20 unanswered points and were an onside kick away from having the ball with a chance to take the lead in the late going.

From the point of the second interception on, Griffin was 25 of 36 for 276 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

“Coming out at halftime we talked in there as an offense and said we'll find out a lot about our team by what happens in the second half,” said Griffin. “I think we did find out a lot, the same things we knew last year. This team's got a lot of heart, guys are going to fight until the end not matter what happens.”

Although the comeback was the proverbial too little and too late, Griffin did look much more like the 2012 version of himself with some nice passes and even a few good scrambles. That performance gave some encouragement for next Sunday when they have to go to Green Bay to take on Aaron Rogers and the Packers.

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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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