ORCHARD PARK, NY—In some respects Robert Griffin III’s pro football debut was just another day on the football field to him.
When asked about his emotions when he got onto the field to start Thursday night’s 7-6 preseason win in Buffalo, he downplayed the moment at first.
“At the end of the day, this is what we do for a living,” he said. “I’ve played football for a long time, the game hasn’t changed, just the size of the people change.”
But immediately he conceded that there was something special about it.
“It was fun to get out there, run around, suit up in the Redskins gear for the first time,” he said.
“It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Mike Shanahan was impressed. “He did everything he has to do,” he said of Griffin. “He stepped up, made some plays, made some throws. Very calm, cool, and collected.”
There was a forgettable moment on the Redskins’ second possession. Griffin handed off to Evan Royster and the ball came out. The Bills recovered, setting up a field goal.
“It was just an unfortunate thing that happened,” said Griffin. Royster took responsibility for the fumble.
George Wilson started to run with the ball after he recovered it and Griffin took off after him. When a reporter asked Shanahan if it was a good idea for Griffin to risk injury like that the coach said he had no problem with it.
"It’s football,” Shanahan said. “He’s got to act like a football player. If I have a guy running away, I have the wrong quarterback."
But the next time they had the ball, things started to click for the offense. On second and 10 from the Washington 20, Griffin fired a strike to Pierre Garçon that was good for 20 yards.
“That first first down is always the toughest one to get,” said Griffin. “But once you get that you can start getting in the flow of things as an offense.”
Griffin said he thought that the offensive line, which was playing without three projected starters, gained some confidence during that drive. They kept him upright all 14 snaps he was in there and, on that play that got the drive started, allowed him time to scan the field, go through his progressions, and throw to Garçon, who was his last read on the play.
Two plays later, it was Griffin to Garçon again, this time for 18 yards into Buffalo territory. Soon after that, the Redskins faced third and three at the 20. The play was a bubble screen to, you guessed it, Garçon
“The most important thing to me was to make sure I got the ball over the defensive end so he didn’t knock it down,” said Griffin. “And the rest is history. The offensive line got in front of him, threw a bunch of a good blocks and he took it to the house.”
During that drive, which came against the Bills’ first-team defense, things almost looked easy for Griffin.
“It was fun,” he said. “I got to get out there and get in some action and go against people other than our defense.”
“Practice is a lot harder than games.”
Things will get harder in games as Griffin moves through the next few weeks. When they start playing for keeps on Sept. 9 in New Orleans the intensity will go up several notches.
But Thursday night if Buffalo was a good next step for Griffin.