Countdown to OTAs: What's RG3 missing?

Countdown to OTAs: What's RG3 missing?
May 17, 2013, 11:00 am
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Next Monday, Redskins Park will be abuzz as organized team activities (OTAs) get underway. For the first time since January, the parking lots will be full. The practice fields, weight and locker rooms, too, as coaches, veteran players and prospects officially begin their preparations for the 2013 NFL season.

In the meantime, we’re going address some of the offseason-related questions we’re hearing from fans. Up today...

Question: What, if anything, will Robert Griffin III miss by being sidelined during OTAs and minicamp? 

Answer: The short answer is probably not a whole lot. 

Griffin’s recovery is ahead of schedule and he’s walking without a limp – or a brace – only four months after having his right knee reconstructed for a second time. That’s very good news for the Redskins.

But that doesn’t mean he’ll be on the field with his teammates as Phase 3 of the team’s offseason program begins in a few days. In fact, it’s likely his first practice won’t be until training camp, which begins July 25th in Richmond.

Back in March, Coach Mike Shanahan said Kirk Cousins “will have all the reps in the offseason.” Cousins, after all, must prepare as though he’ll be under center Sept. 9 against the Eagles – just in case.

Shanahan also said Griffin “will have a lot of reps, but it will all be mental.”

That would seem to indicate Griffin will spend at least some of each OTA session on the sideline watching, asking questions, lending his support to Cousins, talking through things with Kyle Shanahan. Whether that happens, though, remains to be seen. Griffin also has a rigorous rehab schedule, and Mike Shanahan never really defined what “mental reps” are going to mean for his star quarterback.

Either way, what exactly will RG3 be missing by not being on the field?

A total of 10 practice sessions, each 90 minutes in duration, in helmets and shorts (May 20, 22, 23 and 28-30 and June 3-6). He'll also miss mandatory minicamp (June 11-13). According to the CBA, there can be no one-on-one offense vs. defense drills (for example wide receiver vs. cornerback bump-and-run drills are not permitted) during these practices. So, in reality, it can be argued that Griffin won’t be missing much, at least in terms of high-tempo reps.

It should also be noted that OTAs are most important for new/and or bubble players who are learning the system or attempting to impress the coaching staff. Griffin, as we know, is already familiar with the scheme and virtually all of the key personnel on offense since the other 10 starters and most reserves are returning, including all of his primary receivers and running back Alfred Morris.

Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly said earlier this year that Griffin’s progression from his rookie season to his sophomore season would only be set back if he were to miss both OTAs and training camp. Right now, it’s too early to speculate about whether Griffin will miss a single day of camp.

“If he misses all of training camp, I don’t think he improves, Casserly told CSNWashington.com. “Where can he improve? He can improve in the drop back game, on down-the-field passing and reading [defenses]. There’s no question that’s the next area for him to improve.”

Whatever Griffin’s role will be for the next three weeks, this much we can be certain about: His No. 1 priority will be to continue to get his knee healthy.

Best-case scenario: Griffin’s recovery continues to progress smoothly and he’s able to start training camp with his teammates.

Worst-case scenario: Griffin’s progress slows, he misses a significant portion of camp and, as Casserly said, his learning curve is affected.