Redskins fans were visibly disappointed when prize rookie Robert Griffin III was pulled from the team’s first preseason game after throwing only six passes. Yet while Washington’s quarterback of the future was taken out of harm’s way in Orchard Park, several notable players were removed from exhibition games Thursday night with injuries that ranged from day-to-day to potentially serious.
In Philadelphia, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick banged his throwing hand on his center’s helmet, prompting the City of Brotherly Love to hold its collective breath as it awaited an MRI (which was negative, by the way), and receiver Jeremy Maclin was held out of the game entirely after tweaking his hamstring during pre-game warm-ups.
San Diego lost starting running back Ryan Mathews for 4-6 weeks after he broke his clavicle on his first carry while Green Bay fears the worst for linebacker Desmond Bishop, who went down with a leg injury in the same game. And in Atlanta, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco saw two of his top targets, wideout Torrey Smith (ankle) and tight end Ed Dickson (shoulder), call it an early evening.
Still grumbling, Redskins fans?
Griffin was solid but unspectacular in his NFL debut. His final stat line (4-6, 66 yards) was aided by a 20-yard bubble screen that free agent signee Pierre Garcon took to the endzone untouched. All in all, the Heisman winner was pleased with his first real taste of NFL competition.
“It felt extremely good to come out [and play],” Griffin told the Redskins Radio Network. “Coach [Mike Shanahan] did a good job calling plays, got me in rhythm and helped get the offense in rhythm on that third drive.”
Washington struggled mightily on its first two possessions against Buffalo’s rebuilt defensive line, but, despite playing without three starters on its offensive line, marched 80 yards to score the game’s only touchdown. New Bills defensive ends Mario Williams and Mark Anderson combined for one tackle, due in large part to the Redskins throwing several quick, safe passes in order to keep Griffin upright.
“I think it was pretty obvious they protected him,” said tackle Kyle Williams of Griffin. “They did not want him to get hit. That being said, he made a couple plays throwing the ball. It’s kind of hard to judge him because I do not think we saw everything they are going to do with him this year.”
On the bright side for Buffalo, rookie T.J. Graham led the team in receiving with 3 catches for 37 yards. More importantly, the Bills escaped without any serious injuries.
After the game, Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson said it best, tweeting, “Just want to Thank God for Keeping Every player from The #Bills and #Redskins Healthy and Free of any Severe Injuries tonight.”