For Griffin, it's 100-percent 'mental' these days

For Griffin, it's 100-percent 'mental' these days
May 27, 2013, 8:30 am
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RG3 talks about his biggest fear

It’s still unclear when exactly Robert Griffin III will be allowed to rejoin his teammates for team drills. 

It might come in time for the start of training camp on July 25. But it might not. 

Until he receives that medical clearance, Griffin’s challenge on the practice field will be both a physical and a mental one. Because in addition to working to regain his form following major knee surgery, the Redskins quarterback also must become intimately familiar with the playbook and how the defense reacts – without taking a single snap. 

It’s called a “mental rep” and it worked like this during last Thursday’s OTA session:

During offense vs. defense drills, Griffin watched intently from the 15-yard line alongside the coaching staff and other reserves. He held a play card in his hand as Kirk Cousins directed the first team. Griffin stood several yards behind Cousins, but was close enough to hear Cousins call the play, audible at the line of scrimmage and identify the defensive alignment.

After each play, Griffin initiated a brief discussion with someone, whether it was Cousins, quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur or another member of the coaching staff. He was also quick to give Cousins – or a receiver – a pat on the helmet after a well-executed play.

“The mental rep, alright, so basically you know the play, you know what defense you’re going against, you need where you are supposed to be looking, what all of your eligibles are and everything,” Griffin said. “It’s basically paying attention. That’s what a mental rep is.”

Griffin described the process as "grinding" and “frustrating.” But the second-year star also said he recognizes the importance of staying mentally sharp while rehabbing his knee.

“You’re paying attention. You know what you’re supposed to look at and you’re yelling it out before it happens,” he added. “It helps you, looking at [things] from a different perspective [so] when you get out there on the field, you kind of already know, ‘I only need to look at this one guy on this play. Or I need to look at this guy on this play.’ And you go about it that way.”

A mental rep is obviously not as valuable as physical rep. But, for now, it’s all the team’s medical staff will permit Griffin to do.

“We go through the entire script,” he said. “I do the same thing that I did as a rookie, going through the script, each play, writing down what I have to do. Because if I know it, I know I can go out there and do it. That’s where that year of [experience] and knowing the system a little bit better now helps you. You can make sure you actually get the mental rep. You know every play that goes up. And then after practice I’ll stick around and I’ll do some stuff with the guys. The OTA process will be a very frustrating one because, as you guys saw, I feel healthy and I look healthy, but they are not going to put me out there. I have to continue to just keep grinding at it as much as I can to make sure I get.”