By Tarik El-Bashir
The Saints expect to have their hands full trying to contain Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III on Sunday in New Orleans.
Although Griffin rushed only five times in three preseason games, Saints interim Coach Aaron Kromer said he expects to see Washington’s dual-threat quarterback used as a ball carrier.
“I would,” Kromer said. “I would use him as a runner. I know [the Redskins] have three good runners right now in the backfield that have done a good job. I would add Robert Griffin III to that, and let him run the football for me.”
Kromer also acknowledged that the Saints plan to assign a “spy” to shadow Griffin for some, if not all, of the game.
“I think you have to spy him some and I think you have to contain him some,” Kromer added. “I don’t think you can do one thing the whole game. A guy of that magnitude will hurt you.”
Although Kromer mostly praised Griffin during his conference call with local reporters Wednesday, he did say that the Saints hope to exploit Griffin’s inexperience – they’re just not sure it’s going to help.
“I think any quarterback, and especially a rookie, you want to change up what you’re giving them,” Kromer said. “You don’t give them the same thing the whole game. But I think Robert is different from most rookie quarterbacks. He seems advanced in his knowledge of the game and his ability to take off running.”
“If you miss him,” the coach added, “he’s definitely a weapon.”
Asked if facing Cam Newton and the Panthers in Week 5 last season has helped the Saints prepare for Griffin, Kromer said they’re similar.
In 2011, New Orleans limited Newton to 27 yards on seven carries. It was tied for his second lowest rushing total of his rookie season.
“I think Cam is a powerful, good runner as well,” Kromer said. But “if they were racing, I think Griffin might win.”
Saints quarterback Drew Brees said Griffin’s attitude and athleticism eventually will make him a star in the NFL.
“He’s a winner,” Brees said. “He is a phenomenal athlete. He can do things with his legs and his arms that most people can’t do. You figure it’s only a matter of time before he takes this league by storm. I just hope it doesn’t happen Sunday.”