11:25 PM EDT, August 4, 2012
ASHBURN, Va. (AP)
The loud ovation as Robert Griffin III walked from the Washington Redskins’ practice facility down to the field is something he’s gotten used to. It was just a bit louder on Saturday.
The rookie quarterback, taken No. 2 overall in the NFL Draft in April, smiled and waved to the announced crowd of 24,650 gathered at Redskins Park for the team’s Fan Appreciation Day.
The chant of “RG3! RG3!” sprung up on four occasions, and fans snapped pictures and clamored for his autograph throughout the four-hour program.
At one point, a wooden barricade meant to keep fans from the field broke, and only a tarp with advertisements of team sponsors prevented it from coming apart completely.
“This is a top pick in the draft and a Heisman-winning quarterback,” said Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who approved the March 10 trade that sent three first-round selections and a second-rounder to St. Louis in order to move up four spots to take Griffin. “It’s a big deal for everyone and for Redskins Nation.”
Saturday’s practice marked the 10th day of training camp, but for many, it was the first opportunity to see the new face of the franchise in action. He drew oohs and aahs from the crowd — a good proportion of which was wearing some type of Griffin apparel.
The afternoon also included a welcoming speech by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and performances by the team’s marching band and cheerleaders. It concluded with a speech from coach Mike Shanahan, as well as players and coaches dispersing around the two practice fields that were used to give game balls to 110 lucky fans.
Shanahan said the fans “are really going to love the team this year,” a season after Washington went 5-11 and finished in last place in the NFC East for the fourth consecutive season.
“We have more depth and more competition than we’ve had in a long time, and I guarantee you, with the type of depth that we’ve got and the attitude we have, you’re going to be very, very proud of this football team,” Shanahan said.
Notes: Starting outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan missed practice for the second time in a week with what Shanahan called a “heat-related illness.” . Two fights broke out during the practice. The first was a brief shoving match between Pro Bowl inside linebacker London Fletcher and starting center Will Montgomery. The other featured punches exchanged by tight end Niles Paul and linebacker Markus White, both reserves. “I just kind of snapped,” Paul said.
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