Is RG3 Ready for Week 1 Against the Eagles?

Is RG3 Ready for Week 1 Against the Eagles?

Two situations spring to mind when I think about Robert Griffin III under center for the Washington Redskins just eight months removed from a torn ACL, not to mention without attempting so much as a single pass in a preseason game this summer.

First, I think of Donovan McNabb in 2007, less than one year after his torn ACL. It was not Five’s finest season, particularly the first few weeks while he was shaking off the rust. McNabb posted passer ratings of 60.7, 74.5, and 61.0 in three of his first four games back – all losses – and the Eagles wound up finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs.

Next I think of Michael Vick in 2012, when he more or less missed the entire preseason with injuries. Vick attempted all of seven passes between two exhibition games, and when the regular season arrived, it showed. He completed 51.8% of his passes and threw four interceptions while narrowly escaping Cleveland with a 17-16 win, a sign of things to come as it turned out.

Although it would seem there are multiple forces at work against Griffin, Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan reiterated on Monday that Griffin will be the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Eagles next week. Having seen signal callers in similar situations before, I have to wonder whether the second-year player will be ready for live action.

For what it’s worth, his head coach and teammates sound impressed by what they’ve seen from Griffin. Shanahan claims he wouldn’t put his 23-year-old franchise quarterback on the field if they weren’t confident he was able to do everything they asked. According to the guys inside the huddle, like Villanova product Darrel Young, it’s the same RG3.

 “You guys [the media] aren’t out there [at practice], but let me just tell you this: He looks damn good,” fullback Darrel Young said. “The way he’s moving around, making plays . . . he’s full go with everything.”

If he is truly as good as new, that’s great news for Griffin and for football fans. After watching Adrian Peterson run wild over the NFL less than a year removed from the same type of injury, it certainly looked like players can come back faster than ever.

Even if it’s not a question of physical limitations for Griffin though, what about the lack of a preseason? Griffin only began practicing 11-on-11 against the Redskins defense a few weeks ago, but even had he been going against them all training camp, they can’t simulate a live pass rush that’s coming to get the quarterback, or what it will be like the first time he takes a hit.

Vick has come to understand the importance of getting some work in during the preseason since last year's disastrous opening-day performance. In Reuben Frank’s story for CSN, the four-time Pro Bowler talks about how much more prepared he is for this season over last.

“Honestly? Yeah, I think it did affect me, a lot,” Vick said, referring to last year's preseason. “It takes a while to get adjusted, and yeah, I’ve been in the game a long time and I’m a veteran and I know what it feels like to be in the game, but sometimes there’s really no way of simulating that -- the game-type atmosphere.

To be fair, Griffin may already be a more well-rounded player in year two in the NFL than Vick ever was, but does that mean he’ll be ready to hit the ground running on September 9? That’s a little difficult to take on faith based on the historical and anecdotal evidence. Even Peterson didn’t really hit his stride until a month into the season, and there’s a lot less going on for a running back.

Granted, Griffin is a rare breed, but will he be as ready as possible for Monday night when the lights go on? It seems like a stretch.

>> RG3 determined to be even better [WaPo]
>> Can improved preseason be key to Vick's success? [CSN]

Agholor, Huff and Green-Beckham avoiding Eagles' trade rumors

Agholor, Huff and Green-Beckham avoiding Eagles' trade rumors

While head coach Doug Pederson denied reports the Eagles have inquired about the availability of veteran wide receivers Wednesday (see story), it's fair to wonder how those rumors affect the psyche of the guys who are already here. True or not, there's a reason why stories about trades are believable.

The Eagles' current crop of receivers hasn't been very impactful, particularly Nelson Agholor, Josh Huff and Dorial Green-Beckham. Yet despite disappointing numbers, constant questions about their lack of production and now rumblings somebody like Torrey Smith or Alshon Jeffery could be coming to take their jobs, the young trio doesn't sound too worried.

"We all have a job to do here, and if you're worried about somebody else, you're going to lose sight of your own job," Agholor said. "Just like anybody else in any workplace, you need to focus on yourself and execute your job."

"That has nothing to do with me," Huff said. "As long as I'm confident in the way I do my job, everything else will speak for itself."

"It's something I'm completely not worried out," Green-Beckham added. "I'm really just focusing on myself and whatever happens, happens."

Not only do the Eagles' wideouts sound genuinely unconcerned by trade rumors, they almost seem to welcome the competition.

"It motivates you, especially if you're still around," Agholor said. "Or if you get sent somewhere else, you understand that you have to wake up. You have to wake up and you have to make plays."

"I'm a competitor," Huff said. "I'm not going to say no to a competition, but if they do want a veteran receiver, so be it. It doesn't bother us."

It's certainly the right attitude to have, maybe even the only one. Still, trade rumors — whether rumors are all they are or not — is a clear indictment of this group's performance this season.

Jordan Matthews has been OK, but far from a prolific No. 1 receiver who makes up for a lack of complementary weapons. The third-year player is currently on pace to finish 2016 with 67 receptions for 944 yards and five touchdowns, all of which would be down from his previous season's totals.

Agholor is second on the team with 18 receptions for 191 yards, Huff has 12 catches for 63 yards and Green-Beckham has 13 for 139. All three have found the end zone once as well.

What's troubling about those numbers is that not only the lack of production, but the lack of plays they've made down the field. Agholor and Green-Beckham are both under less than 11 yards per reception, while Huff is averaging a paltry 5.3.

It's no wonder the Eagles' front office would show interest in deep threats like Smith and Jeffery, both of whom are proven capable of stretching the field.

"I just work every day and try to get separation to the best of my ability," Agholor said. "I have a great receivers coach that tries to help me with my releases and fine tune that, but the most important thing I feel like with creating separation is a mindset, because this is a league, where it's good on good every day."

"It's just what the coaches see, what the coaches want from us," Huff said. "Obviously, would I want to get the ball downfield? Yes. Has it gone that way? No, but my job is to continue to get better each and every day, and once my number is called, I'll be ready to make that play."

Pederson, who earlier denied the Eagles were looking into trades, defended the big-play ability of his wideouts.

"Nelson can stretch it," Pederson said. "Josh can stretch it. But I think it's protection and design of the play. When I think of stretching the field, I mean, a guy can run fast and that can be stretching the field, but who can really take the top off?

"Those two guys are two that can do that."

Agholor, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2015, has faced these kinds of questions since his underwhelming rookie season. He's getting used to people doubting his ability, but that's not stopping him from keeping a positive attitude.

"I think the most important thing is to progress each day, and have a next-play mentality too," Agholor said. "Some of the greatest players in this league, they drop balls, I'm sure guys have probably jammed them before, however it goes, but the best thing they can do is just bounce back, line up again and win the next matchup.

"I want to continue to have that mindset and allow it to speak for itself so I don't have to sit here and tell. If every time you're all asking me that, it must mean you all don't see that."

Green-Beckham has a little bit more of a unique perspective on this matter than Agholor and Huff. While the second-year receiver is staying positive and motivated as well, he's been on the other end of these rumors and was ultimately traded from the Titans to the Eagles back in August.

Because he's only been with the team for a couple of months, Green-Beckham didn't seem too worried he's running out of opportunities with the Eagles.

"I just got here, so I don't think I'm going to end up leaving when I just got here," Green-Beckham said. "For some guys, you really have to worry about that, and you just have to focus on trying to compete, trying to get better and better each and every day and doing the little things."

Green-Beckham also knows better than anyone how such a trade would increase expectations on the players already inside the locker room, and he had a message for his teammates.

"I just know how it feels for guys who come in as traded, and for guys who've been here, you just have to understand you're going to have to compete when stuff like that happens," Green-Beckham said. "It makes your job a lot hard, but you just have to focus more.

"It's a business. Like they say, the NFL stands for not for long, so you always have that in your thoughts, and know every opportunity, you have to take advantage of it."

Joel Embiid the gold standard by wearing gold shoes to NBA debut

Joel Embiid the gold standard by wearing gold shoes to NBA debut

For the better part of two years, most of Sixers fans' worries focused on Joel Embiid's foot.

Before his first NBA game on Tuesday night against the Thunder, Embiid made sure his very large feet were still the center of attention.

Embiid walked into the Wells Fargo Center sporting a flashy pair of gold shoes.

Hopefully he has a pair of matching basketball sneakers for tonight's game.

Also, this is cool: