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'We're thankful he's making the right decisions'

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'We're thankful he's making the right decisions'

Robert Griffin III electrified FedEx Field on Sunday with his 76-yard run down the sideline for a victory-clinching touchdown against the Vikings.

What might prove more important in the long term, though, were the multiple occasions when the Redskins’ rookie – seven days removed from suffering the first concussion of his NFL career – chose self-preservation over the type of high-risk play that knocked him out of the game the previous week.

“As I’ve told people, you stay aggressive, but you just try to be smart,” Griffin said after the Redskins’ 38-26 victory. “I felt like I got out of bounds a couple of times when I should have. I threw the ball away one time and got penalty because a guy hit me. You try to play smart but stay aggressive.”

It’s not that Griffin didn’t get hit; he did. Anytime a quarterback carries the ball 13 times for a team-record 138 yards, he’s going to get tackled. Griffin simply did a better job of deciding when to turn up the field with the ball, when to get down and when to duck out of bounds.

Four plays in particular stand out a good examples of this:

--In the first quarter, Griffin bootlegged to the left, surveyed the field, realized all of his receivers were covered, tucked the ball and sprinted toward the sideline. With the Vikings’ four-time pro bowl defensive end Jared Allen in pursuit and two defensive backs also closing in, Griffin stepped out of bounds after a seven-yard gain. The capacity crowd showered Griffin with a sarcastic cheer – not for the run but for his wise decision to get out of bounds. 

--In the second quarter, Griffin scrambled out of the pocket and judiciously chose to throw the ball away. After releasing the ball, Griffin was shoved by Vikings’ linebacker Erin Henderson. Although Griffin later acknowledged that he embellished the hit, the official whistled Henderson for roughing the passer. Griffin gave an exaggerated head nod as he walked back to the huddle.

--Also in the second quarter, Griffin carried the ball up the middle on a designed run. He shook Henderson at the line of scrimmage, but before safety Harrison Smith could lay a hard hit on him, Griffin slid, thus avoiding any contact. “You have to live with that,” he later explained. “And not worry about the eight or nine yards you could have gotten [by] taking the hit.”

--In the third quarter, Griffin dropped back to pass, pump faked and then took off toward the right sideline. After turning the corner, three Vikings closed in on him. But before any of the defenders could get close enough to hit him, Griffin stepped out of bounds. Griffin perhaps could have gained a few more yards by lowering his shoulder into safety Jamarca Sanford, but he didn’t.

“I think common sense prevailed,” Coach Mike Shanahan said. “I think he’ll learn every game, maybe, when to slide, when to throw the ball away, when to go out of bounds a little bit earlier. I saw that today in a number of situations. As time goes on, he’ll keep on getting better and better at keeping people away from [himself].”

After one practice last week, Griffin pulled together his teammates and told them he did not intend to put himself in harm’s way again.

“I told the team I wasn’t going to leave them hanging,” Griffin said. “So I tried to make sure I did that.”

Guard Kory Lichtensteiger said the other players are grateful that the team’s most important player has pledged – and now shown – that he’s serious about being more careful.

“He’s learned a lot from that hit” against the Falcons, Lichtensteiger said. “He doesn’t want to spend another half in the locker room getting treated. It’s something he had to learn. It’s too bad he had to learn it the hard way, but we’re thankful he’s making the right decisions.” 

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Pressure on Gruden, Galette confident

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, June 24, 33 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 174 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles in FedEx Field in 78 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 23
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 47
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 70

The Redskins week that was

Pressure Points: Focus is on Jay Gruden like never before—So you lost two coordinators and your top two wide receivers? Well, the Redskins gave him a two-year contract extension because they think he can deal with problems like those. Gruden will be cut zero slack.

Post-minicamp 53-man roster projection, offense—Sure, there will be plenty of lip service about everyone having a chance of making the 53-man roster. But this cake is very nearly baked. But the real competition in training camp will be for the 10 practice squad spots. I picked 25 offensive players to make it and I’m confident that 23, maybe 22 of the picks will be right. There seems to be more questions on defense (roster projection here) but even on that side of the ball, few jobs are truly up for grabs.

Redskins in a no-lose situation with confident Galette—We haven’t seen Junior Galette practicing in the spring before. Two years ago, he wasn’t with the team yet and last year he was held out so he could rehab his torn Achilles. That means we don’t have much comparison to make but he did look good. Next step is to do it with the pads on.

Snyder 'THRILLED' with ruling that should protect Redskins name—The legal part of the fight to get the Redskins to change their name is over after the recent Supreme Court ruling. They will not lose their trademark protection, which would effectively force them to change the team. However, it seems likely that the political and social battle will go on.

Is a Redskins-Cousins deal not only possible but probable?—One analyst thinks that the Redskins have too much to lose to not get a deal done by July 17. I think he’s right but I’m not sure if I’ll go along with his odds. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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One surprising stat that puts Vernon Davis at top of NFL tight ends

One surprising stat that puts Vernon Davis at top of NFL tight ends

Vernon Davis played well in 2016, quite well in fact. Signed to a one-year deal after a poor 2015 season, expectations were low for Davis and he over-delivered.

He ended the season with 44 catches and 583 yards to go with two touchdowns, but a stat from Pro Football Focus truly stands out. 

There were 15 tight ends with more yards than Davis, including one on his own team in Jordan Reed. Still, at age 32, Davis had the moves to make defenders miss. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Even early in 2016, as early as training camp, a number of Redskins players mentioned that Davis still had speed and quickness. That didn't change throughout the 16 game season. Pro Football Focus just quantified it. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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