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Defense faces unique challenge this week.
Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III might technically be a rookie, but if you ask anyone in the Steelers locker room the number two player taken overall in this year’s NFL Draft looks nothing like a rookie.
“Not really,” said cornerback Ike Taylor. “It’s because of his demeanor. He is calm in the pocket, doesn’t get rattled. You see guys blitzing him a few times and he doesn’t let that bother him. He is always looking to make a play, but not force the issue. You wouldn’t think he is a rookie the way he handles pressure.”
Defensive end Ziggy Hood, who joked he got his talent by being a fellow Texan, thinks the moniker of rookie is out the window with this guy.
“He looks like a well-trained veteran out there,” said Hood. “After three games he is no longer a rookie. He is doing his job and doing it well. He is a great competitor and has great coaches over there. He will have nothing but success if he keeps doing things correctly over there.”
Griffin III, or RGIII as he is known, ranks first in the NFL in yards per pass attempt, fourth quarter rushing yards, rushing attempts, yards per rush attempt, 10 plus yards gains in rushing efficiency and, well, you get the picture.
“They have RGIII,” said Taylor. “RGIII pretty much makes the world go around. It starts with RGIII. RGIII is special. He is a special guy when it comes to doing both running and passing.”
He has already completed 133 passes for 1,601 yards and seven touchdowns through seven games, while adding 468 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. It’s that duel threat that is going to keep the defense on their toes this week.
“In the secondary we call it plastering, meaning everyone is open regardless if you feel like he is covered because of the run threat from RGIII,” said Taylor. “Just seeing what he is doing as a rookie, he is getting better every week. He is a double threat, running and passing. That is why we have the front seven. I can’t worry about the option. I have to worry about the pass. They have the best play action pass in the game.”
It will be Hood and company who are going to have to contain him on the run, something they know they have to play sound defense in order to do.
“We have to do our job that we are coached to do,” said Hood. “We have to go out and have a great week of practice and demonstrate that on Sunday.
“He is kind of like (Michael) Vick. We had to try and contain him and put pressure on him. You can try to do the same.”
But it’s not an easy task. Unlike quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who can keep a play alive and then get the ball off, Griffin III will opt for the run if he doesn’t see someone open and he has been highly effective with it.
“He is more of a threat as a runner than Ben,” said Taylor. “For the times he runs, he is looking to pass first. He only does run when he has to, but when he does run you see him scoring touchdowns.
“The guy we have is proven. Time will tell with RGIII, but what he has shown the last few weeks he is going to be a special quarterback.”