RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Chris Thompson saw friend and former teammate Robert Griffin III at the airport before camp. They chatted and went their separate ways with an early October meeting still a long way away.
The only remnants of Griffin’s tumultuous tenure at Washington Redskins training camp are the No. 10 jerseys worn by a few fans. With Griffin in Cleveland and the Redskins’ starting quarterback job firmly in the hands of Kirk Cousins, Redskins camp lacks the buzz and drama of past years.
Welcome to Camp Boring — exactly what coach Jay Gruden wants.
“Well, we don’t want a three-ring circus out here,” Gruden said Tuesday. “I don’t know if it’s been like that in the past, probably when I first got here, but our goal is to coach football and play football. We’re trying to get the best out of our guys. We’re not trying to do any crazy stunts off the field. We just want to focus in on our job at hand and that’s to get better every day.”
The sense of calm around the Redskins is unusual for an organization that’s had a chaotic past. Sure, they made a splash by signing All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, but he’s just on the field sharpening himself against star receiver DeSean Jackson and kicking a soccer ball around afterward to build camaraderie with teammates.
The biggest question surrounds injured receiver Josh Doctson, the first-round pick with the nagging Achilles injury that’s lasted more than three months. He’s intermittently been wearing a walking boot on his left foot. General manager Scot McCloughan has been walking around with his left hand wrapped, reportedly the result of hitting something in anger after learning Doctson is still expected to be out for weeks.
Gruden said Doctson has no timeframe to practice, let alone ready for game action. But if that’s the biggest cause of consternation around the Redskins, they’ll take it.
“There’s no drama, there’s no distractions,” said Thompson, the Redskins’ second-string running back. “It’s just come to work and get better. It’s boring in a good way. We’re just all here to work, and that’s just the goal. That’s what we’ve been wanting to do for the longest — just get all the drama out and play football. Now we’re able to do that.”
Smaller crowds than previous years won’t make Richmond officials happy, but there are plenty of fans to hoot and holler during workouts. Veterans who have been through plenty of camps brush off the idea of boredom but conceded this isn’t like any other year.
They’re not being asked about Griffin, the team’s nickname or any of the other issues
“It is good because you don’t have the frenzy of the reporters, and what we’re talking about is football and talking about football can only make you better, especially when you’ve got the right guys in the locker room,” said defensive lineman Kedric Golston, who’s entering his 11th season with Washington. “We don’t have to talk about it or waste an ounce of energy on things that’s not going to help us win.”
Coming off an improbable NFC East title, the Redskins believe Cousins as their quarterback, Matt Jones as their feature running back and Norman as their No. 1 cornerback puts them closer to winning. Signings of Denver Super Bowl-winning tight end Vernon Davis and safety David Bruton Jr. add to the depth and provide desired camp competition.
The fiercest competition might be Bruton vs. Duke Ihenacho for the starting strong safety job. Perry Riley vs. Mason Foster at inside linebacker and Spencer Long vs. Shawn Lauvao at left guard also bear watching.
Told his camp was calm and almost boring, Gruden laughed and said, “Thanks.” He’d like to keep it that way.
“We have a long ways to go, but all the off-the-field stuff and the entertainment value that people are looking for, hopefully they don’t find it here,” Gruden said. “We’re very businesslike in our approach and we’re trying to rebound from last year’s loss to the Packers and repeat as NFC East champions and go a little bit further.”
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