As coach Mike Shanahan launches his third training camp with the Redskins, the excitement comes from something other than a showdown between Shanahan and one of his players.
And he likes it that way.
“We had a little bit of controversy with Albert [Haynesworth],” Shanahan told reporters on Thursday. “That was a big controversy the year before. At least from the team’s perspective, from the players it wasn’t that big to me because the players had worked with him for a year. But publicly it was tough because that’s all we had to talk about. And obviously last year with the Donovan [McNabb] situation you had to answer those questions.”
This year, there’s no drama. (Yet.)
“It’s always great,” Shanahan said about the absence of issues. “You know, you develop your program hoping that you can eliminate those type of situations. And going into our third year and if you take a look at the first year, it was a little different since free agents couldn’t come in until they had six approved seasons. And last year with the lockout, I thought things turned out extremely well with the lockout, because we were still able to get some good free agents and we had a very solid draft. And I thought we did the same thing this year. You can see it’s a different football team. We are much younger. I feel very good with where we are at. We’ve got a lot of work, obviously, to improve on and we just try to play it day-by-day.”
That’s a prudent approach for everyone associated with the organization when it comes to quarterback Robert Griffin III. Though folks will be inclined to obsess over everything he does in training camp and the preseason (especially with rookie Kirk Cousins waiting in the wings and the Heath Shuler/Gus Frerotte memories stirred up 18 years later), the process of knowing whether Griffin truly can perform at a high level at this level doesn’t begin until Week One, when the Redskins are implementing a specific offensive game plan and when Griffin is facing a specific defensive game plan in a game that counts.