AP Sports Writer
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Robert Griffin III downplayed the notion that he’s oversensitive to criticism, saying: “Trust me, I’m not worried about anybody liking me.”
Meanwhile, Jay Gruden said he feels the “weight of the world” on his shoulders and confessed to being “very nervous” ahead of his NFL head coaching debut.
The Washington Redskins coach and QB are in the final days of preparation for Sunday’s season opener against the Houston Texans. Questions abound as to how long it will take Griffin to get comfortable in Gruden’s offense, how long it will take Gruden to hit his stride as the leader of a team, and how Griffin will handle the inevitable backlash when he hits another rough patch.
The round-the-clock scrutiny — much of it negative — of life in the NFL has often seemed at odds with Griffin’s upbeat nature since he entered the league in 2012. Among the notable observations made this summer by Gruden: “He wants everybody to love Robert, and that’s not going to be the case at the quarterback position.”
Griffin responded to that statement Wednesday while meeting with a roomful of reporters.
“I know where Jay’s coming from when he says those kind of things,” Griffin said. “But, yeah, I’ve learned that not everybody’s going to like you, and that’s the nature of the business, it’s the nature of human beings, period.
“There’s people in this room that don’t like me, so you’ve just got to move on from that kind of stuff, and I think Jay being here has helped me grow, helped me grow as a person. … Trust me, I’m not worried about anybody liking me.”
Griffin’s social media history might suggest otherwise, including recent Facebook and Twitter posts in which he pointed out how he successfully answered the doubters in high school and college, and then added: “Keep doubting.”
But Gruden said the third-year QB is getting better at tuning out the negative noise.
“He came out of Baylor as a Heisman Trophy (winner), everybody loved him, he had a great year his rookie year and did some great things,” Gruden said. “And obviously, as quarterbacks do go through at some point in their career, they hit the rocky spot. He hit the rocky spot last year and kind of realized that people will turn on him, writers included. And that’s just nature of the business.
“It’s a tough pill for him to swallow, but I think he’s swallowed it, and he’s moved forward and trying to do the best he can.”
Griffin certainly isn’t short on confidence headed into Week 1, despite a preseason in which the first-team offense failed to find the end zone. He has looked tentative in the pocket since the start of training camp, but he said the preseason ails were fixed during the last few days of practice.
“The biggest thing is everyone’s saying we didn’t score any touchdowns in preseason,” Griffin said. “But as long as we score touchdowns in the regular season it doesn’t matter.”
Griffin also made a vow to play well for his teammates.
“If I play well, we play well. If I don’t play well, we don’t play well,” Griffin said. “I understand that, they understand that, and I’m going to do my best, and I promise I’ll play well for them.”
Gruden was a bit more measured. He clearly doesn’t see Griffin winning a shootout.
“If we get behind and it turns into a drop-back-pass fest, it won’t be pretty,” Gruden said. “So it’s very important for us to stick with the run. Run the ball and do the best we can in that regard to take some of the pressure off of our quarterback and our linemen.”
Gruden has also been candid about the challenges he’s been facing as a first-time head coach, and he spoke more about his feelings Wednesday.
“I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders a little bit,” he said. “When you’re a coordinator, you just worry about the offensive game plan and scripting and doing the (play) cards, but as a head coach there is a lot more on your plate. And I’ve been eating it all, it’s rough.
“It’s been exciting and I’m very excited about the first game to start, very nervous, but I know that the staff I hired and the players we have in the building, I know it is not going to be about me and it is going to be about them and their success.”
Notes: CB Tracy Porter was absent from practice to see another doctor about his hamstring injury. … LB Akeem Jordan (knee) also did not practice. … With S Brandon Meriweather suspended for the first two games, Bacarri Rambo worked with the starters.
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