Jay Gruden is not leaving any room for interpretation. The Washington Redskins' rookie head coach said Robert Griffin III is the starting quarterback.
"That's for sure. Hands down," Gruden said at the opening of his first training camp as a head coach Wednesday.
It's a stark contrast to 12 months ago, when former head coach Mike Shanahan widened the divide between him and RG3 by virtually ruling him out of the preseason before camp even got underway.
That was then, when Griffin was still recovering from major knee surgery. He enters his third training camp healthy and in great shape. Now the real work gets underway, learning Gruden's system, working on his footwork and mechanics and honing his command of an NFL offense.
"I could sit here for 35 or 40 minutes and talk about what he needs to work on and I'll say the same thing about what Tom Brady needs to work on," said Gruden. "You know what I mean? That's just the position and every position on the field, in regards to training both mentally and physically, and that's not going to change. As long as you are an active football player, somebody is after your job."
Training camp can be a grind, but Gruden isn't apologizing. Griffin struggled with limited mobility and a lack of preparation after being held out of training camp by Shanahan last year. He was behind the 8-ball from the beginning, and battled inconsistency before ultimately being shut down for the season.
"Repetition. Reps, reps, reps. You can never have too many reps," Gruden said when discussing how Griffin can benefit over the next month. "We can run the same play 10 times and we might get 10 different defenses. The more you see that play against different defenses, the more you see the blitzes that he has to handle from a quarterback position, step it up in the pocket, his fundamentals, his footwork... He just needs to continue to get reps.
Gruden was admittedly "fired up" to kick off his first training camp as a head coach. He several veteran coaches to lean on for advice, including defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, a former NFL head coach himself.
All the players reported to camp on time, and like with the other 31 franchises in the NFL, expectations are high. And those expectations begin with Griffin, who plummeted back to earth last season following his NFL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2012.
"Happiness comes with wins," Gruden acknowledged. "Nobody's going to be happy if we're 2-14. Our whole goal is to make sure we make him as comfortable as possible with this system and that when he's out there on Sundays, he's comfortable and feels good about the direction we're going offensively.
"And if we can make him feel comfortable and put him in a comfort zone and a place where he can succeed, then I feel like we'll have a much better chance with this franchise to be successful.
Four players will not be on the field for the team's Thursday practice: defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (knee), wide receiver Leonard Hankerson (knee), defensive end Stephen Bowen (knee) and guard Maurice Hurt (out of shape).
Gruden declined to speculate on when each would return, although he did allow that Hatcher is likely ahead of the others.
"That's totally up to (trainer) Larry (Hess) and the training staff and the doctors and the player," said Gruden. "Obviously we have high hopes. They've been working very hard. They're making all their schedule appointments. They all want to be on the field as soon as possible, but I'm going to leave that up to Larry and their progress will speak for itself.
"We don't want to rush anybody back from an injury, obviously. One-hundred percent is a good number for us. We're waiting for them to get to that."