- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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ASHBURN, Va. -- Are the Washington Redskins planning to reduce the number of read-option plays in their playbook in order to keep quarterback Robert Griffin III safe? No chance. Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Wednesday that one of the benefits of the read-option is that it helps keep the quarterback safe, and that the plays on which Griffin got injured in his rookie season were pass plays on which Griffin decided to scramble.
"The zone-read is something I feel, in the long run, helps the quarterback," Shanahan said. "The quarterback's only going to run if there's no one there to hit him. If there is someone there to hit him, he's going to hand it off. I think the zone-read stuff is the least of where he got hit. The three injuries were pass plays. They weren't zone-read plays."
Shanahan was one of several Redskins coaches who spoke after Wednesday's minicamp practice about the need to help continue to coach Griffin to learn techniques for self-preservation -- when to throw the ball away, when to run out of bounds, when to slide, etc. He said Griffin's high level of athleticism and the success he's always had with his legs are the reasons he hadn't had to learn those things prior to his arrival in the NFL.
"Most of the other quarterbacks on our roster have been throwing the ball away since high school," Shanahan said. "They can't outrun that guy who's going to hit them. Robert's been outrunning that guy his whole life, now all of a sudden you find you can't."
Redskins quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur said he believes Griffin is on board with the effort to learn to protect himself better on the field.
"I think he realizes the toll these hits can take on his body, and in general he'll be better at staying out of harm's way," LaFleur said. "As a competitor, you never want to give up on a play. But you've got to know when to burn the ball and live to play another day. We're constantly on him about that, and he's on himself about it, too."
Griffin worked on the side during the Redskins' just-completed three-day minicamp as he continues to work his way back from reconstructive knee surgery. He has said he's hoping to return in time for training camp, which begins late next month in Richmond, Va. Backup Kirk Cousins has been working at quarterback with the first team in the meantime, and Cousins is prepared to start if Griffin cannot.