AP Sports Writer
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Of course Matthew McConaughey would want to hang with Robert Griffin III after a Washington Redskins practice.
The Oscar-winning actor, a huge Washington fan who was in town to appear at a team charity event, wore an old-style Redskins yellow T-shirt and walked buddy-buddy with the franchise player as they strolled away from the field following Wednesday’s offseason workout.
Griffin was asked if he noticed McConaughey on the sidelines during practice.
“I think if I was a woman, I would notice it a lot more,” Griffin quipped.
Still, RG3 was the player who drew the biggest scrum of reporters, and he remains the linchpin of the team’s championship hopes.
But this offseason is bit more tranquil for the 24-year-old quarterback with the disarming smile.
It’s not two years ago, when he was the shiny new center of attention, the No. 2 overall pick with unlimited potential. And it’s certainly not last year, when he heaped attention on himself with his “All in for Week 1” campaign while recovering from a serious knee injury amid growing discord with coach Mike Shanahan.
The RG3 of 2014 still loves his slogans — “The Movement” and “Win everything, win every day” are his current chart-toppers — but the knee brace is gone, and so is Shanahan. All is calm under new coach Jay Gruden, and, at least for the moment, Redskins stock doesn’t soar nor crash every time Griffin opens his mouth.
“We’ve got a new coach, and we’ve got new additions, whether it’s DeSean Jackson, Ryan Clark, (Jason) Hatcher, all those guys that are here doing great things,” Griffin said. “And the story lines don’t all lead back to me. And that’s fine.”
It’s a firm reset for Griffin after a 3-13 year that included a late-season shutdown, but he’s still the same image-conscious perfectionist. He’s learning a new offense, and his fundamentals are getting some tweaks under the new coach. Overall, however, Gruden’s take on Griffin sounds somewhat similar to Shanahan’s.
“He’s mature beyond his years already,” Gruden said. “He’s obviously got a lot more maturing to do, but as far as his work ethic is concerned, about how he handles himself on and off the field, I don’t think that’s going to be that big of an issue. It’s just a matter of how you handle the media scrutiny sometimes.
“Like I said, he’s a perfectionist. He doesn’t like negative publicity. He doesn’t like negative plays to happen. He wants everything to be right. He wants everybody to love Robert, and that’s not going to be the case at the quarterback position.”
True to form, Griffin tried to set the record straight about his views on offseason work. A year ago, he was confident he could make a strong return from the knee injury despite missing offseason practices. He now wants all to know that he didn’t mean to devalue the importance the April-June workouts.
“When you have a hand dealt to you where you don’t have an offseason, you don’t use it as an excuse,” Griffin said. “And that was the message that was trying to be sent last year. I didn’t have the opportunity to have that offseason. I was getting healthy, getting ready for the season. You don’t whine about it; you don’t cry about it, and I think maybe it was taken the wrong way and people thought I didn’t need it. You always need it.”
For the most part, though, Griffin has avoided talking about last year — because it would be tricky to do so without dissing Shanahan. No sense rocking the boat while everything is good.
“Everybody wants me to compare this year to last year,” Griffin said. “We haven’t played any games yet, and even when we do play the games, I’m still not going to compare them. That question will not be answered.”
NOTES: WR Jackson remains sidelined with a hamstring injury. Gruden called it a “minor tweak” and said he hopes Jackson is back next week. … Gruden for the first time experienced the sauna-like conditions of the Redskins garage-style news conference room. “You guys can’t afford an air conditioner in here?” the coach said. “You guys quit writing bad stuff about us and maybe we’ll get an AC in here and move you out of the garage.” The remark earned a rare ovation from reporters, and Gruden was brought a green towel to help wipe away his sweat.
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