LANDOVER, Md. (AP) — After watching Robert Griffin III get knocked around for three possessions, Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden sent his starting quarterback back out for a fourth Thursday night. That one ended with consecutive sacks and Griffin leaving with a concussion.
Griffin was hurt early in the second quarter of Washington's 21-17 exhibition victory over the Detroit Lions when he fumbled the ball without contact while scrambling, then got landed on by defensive end Corey Wooton.
Gruden said he had "no idea" how long the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year would be sidelined. As for who would start Washington's next preseason game, Aug. 29 at Baltimore, Gruden said: "We'll have to see. I would imagine, depending how long he's out, he's still going to be our starter."
Added Gruden: "We'll have to wait, go through the whole process, see how he recovers, see how fast he recovers."
Griffin also got a stinger in his right shoulder, but Gruden said that should be OK. As part of the NFL's concussion rules, Griffin wasn't allowed to speak to reporters after the game. He completed 2 of 5 passes for 8 yards, fumbled twice, was sacked three times and hit hard on other occasions.
Asked why he kept Griffin in for a fourth series despite the pounding the QB was taking, Gruden replied: "We weren't doing that well on offense. I wanted to try to get something going on offense. A lot of quarterbacks play into the second quarter in a preseason game. Football is a tough sport."
It capped a rough week for Griffin, who caused a national "firestorm," to use his word, with comments in a television interview about striving to be the best quarterback in the NFL. The No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft after winning the Heisman Trophy, Griffin has been plagued by injuries in the pros, including tearing knee ligaments as a rookie and dislocating an ankle last year.
After his last play Thursday, Griffin stayed down on the field for about 5 minutes and was tended to by trainers, while some teammates kneeled nearby. After Griffin got up, he walked slowly to the sideline, then kept going until he left the field and entered the tunnel that leads to the Redskins' locker room. Griffin gave a thumb's up to spectators as he trudged away.
"It definitely makes you cringe," said Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, who sat out after hurting his right foot in practice this week. "You don't want to see your quarterback get hit at all, in preseason nor regular season. It's definitely not a pleasant feeling."
The other four offensive line starters played, including No. 5 overall draft pick Brandon Scherff at right guard.
Early on, Griffin had one pass batted down by linebacker Tahir Whitehead. The fourth-year quarterback wound up on his back on a third-down incompletion on Washington's second possession, driven to the turf by linebacker DeAndre Levy on a delayed blitz. Later, Griffin was knocked down hard by defensive end Phillip Hunt, who blew past backup left tackle Willie Smith.
"It felt like we were picking Robert up after every pass play. So we've got to fix that," center Kory Lichtensteiger said. "Exactly what led to that, we don't know, but it's something we've got to address, for sure."
The Redskins have not scored a touchdown with Griffin in the game this preseason — and they didn't last preseason, either.
"I'm not going to lay any blame on the quarterback or the offensive line. We'll just wait and see (the game film)," Gruden said. "But it was not a very good performance by our first-team offense — one first down in four drives and the turnover."
Backup Colt McCoy replaced Griffin in the second quarter and went 5 of 6 for 80 yards and a touchdown pass. The other backup QB, Kirk Cousins, was 8 of 12 for 91 yards and a TD toss. Both McCoy and Cousins started games for Washington last season.
"He did a good job of standing in there," Cousins said about Griffin. "There are a lot of guys who don't make it to this level because they don't stand in there. ... His toughness and his willingness to just keep pushing is really impressive."