AP Sports Writer
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- RG3 stood up for RG2 on Wednesday, saying that anyone criticizing the quarterback's father for being in the Washington Redskins locker room "needs to back off."
Robert Griffin III said there was no underlying meaning behind his father's locker room visit following Monday night's 27-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The two chatted at Griffin's locker both and after Griffin's news conference, fueling more questions about the father's influence on the team.
"My dad came to check on me," Griffin said. "He came to check on me to make sure I wasn't injured. My mom was upset. He wanted to do his fatherly duties and he stepped in there to see if I was OK."
Griffin was sacked four times by the 49ers and was briefly in agony after getting kicking in the groin area on one play, but he never left the game and is not listed on the Redskins' injury report.
"Yeah, I was a little shocked that he was there, but he meant no harm," Griffin said. "And anybody out there that's going after my dad needs to back up. That is my father. I will protect my family. He served 21 years in the military -- I know that's not an excuse for anything that he does -- but he's not overstepping any bounds, so I hope people respect that and back off."
While it's not the norm, it's also not unprecedented for family members to be in the locker room following a game, especially if a player has been injured. The room is supposedly off-limits to anyone without proper credentials, but the NFL leaves it up to the individual teams to decide how to regulate the flow of people.
Robert Griffin Jr.'s appearance was noteworthy because he has been vocal about his son's role in the Redskins offense, saying in the spring that he wants his son throwing more and running less. It also came after his son played poorly in a loss that dropped the Redskins to 3-8, far removed from their division title season of a year ago.
Asked about the father-son chat, coach Mike Shanahan said only the father thought the son was injured. The coach did not elaborate further.
The non-football distractions are clearly wearing on Griffin -- he even had to answer questions Wednesday about how often his linemen help him off the ground after sacks -- and he said the team needs to try harder to ignore such "outside stuff."
"It can be hard," Griffin said, "because some way or another, somehow, things just find their way to being right in front of your eyes. It's in moments like these we always say, 'Keep your head up,' but right now we have to make sure that we keep our eyes on the prize, keep our head down away from everything else, and really focus in on that tunnel vision."
Griffin ranks 26th in the NFL in passing rating, and Shanahan has repeatedly said that the quarterback needs a healthy offseason of work to learn how to become a more effective drop-back passer.
Griffin didn't want to talk about the offseason Wednesday, saying: "I think once you start doing that, you've officially given up and you probably shouldn't step on that field."
The quarterback did say he believed an offseason "definitely" helps.
"But I don't use those excuses and I won't use that excuse -- that's for me personally," he said. "As far as the coaches are concerned, if that's how they feel then I can't combat that."
Left tackle Trent Williams said it's inevitable that Griffin's spirits would take a hit, given the expectations surrounding the team after the quarterback won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year award a year ago.
"When you come in as a rookie and had the type of success that we did, going 10-6, making the playoffs," Williams said, "it's hard to keep a high morale when you're not winning."
Williams also said it was "ridiculous" and "dumb" to suggest that the linemen aren't getting along with Griffin just because they aren't always the first to extend an arm after a sack.
With Thanksgiving on Thursday, Griffin listed family, friends and God as reasons to be thankful.
"My favorite meal -- a little gumbo, sweet potato pie. Cornbread, a little bit of that," he said. "There's always a reason to smile and that's why I'm thankful. Because through all of this, through all of the scrutiny and the way the season's gone for us, there's always a reason to smile."
Notes: Rookie TE Jordan Reed practiced on a limited basis, his first on-field work since suffering the concussion that caused him to miss the 49ers game. ... FB Darrel Young remains sidelined with a hamstring injury.
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