Griffin's return brings energy back to Baylor

WACO, Texas -- After almost six months away from the practice field, Robert Griffin returned when Baylor opened its spring practice.

“It’s gonna be a good day,” Griffin said before strapping on his helmet and jogging onto the field inside the Allison Indoor Practice Facility on a rainy Tuesday.

Most of Waco likely agreed.

Griffin didn’t look hobbled while working full-speed through Baylor’s various option attacks or throwing passes that still had his signature high velocity. He did practice with a bulky protective brace on his right knee underneath his white tights.

“I feel normal,” Griffin said. “I know it’s going to be a process before I’ll be back to where I was, but other than that, it’s not necessarily hard to run and cut.”

Griffin won’t take part in any full-contact drills, but coach Art Briles said any “controlled” drills would feature the 2008 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year.

As a freshman, Griffin ran for 846 yards and 13 touchdowns and also threw for 2,091 yards, 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

“We won’t put him through any live contact or team activities where there is a chance that something could happen that we’re not ready for,” he said.

Baylor certainly wasn’t ready for Griffin’s torn ACL in just the third game of one of the Bears' most hyped seasons in recent history.

Before the injury, Griffin had improved on his freshman completion percentage by six points, and matched a career-high three touchdown passes against Northwestern State, coming back to play later in the game after the injury.

But the torn ACL discovered days later derailed Baylor’s season, and what began with a win over Wake Forest and hopes of ending a 14-year bowl drought ended with one conference win and more cries of “Wait ‘til next year.”

“It took a couple days to pick us back up,” said receiver Kendall Wright, who also added that Griffin now looks like he never suffered the injury. “It was my first time really catching from anybody else.”

Backup quarterback Blake Szymanski injured his shoulder later in the game, thrusting freshman Nick Florence into extensive action in seven games.

Until now, all Griffin could do was watch.

“It let me see things that I couldn’t see while I was playing,” Griffin said of the injury. “I actually got to sit out for a year, which I didn’t get to do when I first got here like most quarterbacks do. I think mentally in the game I’ll be further ahead than I was.”

Added Briles: “I certainly think it’s going to benefit him from now onto his career.”

Though Griffin won’t be on full display this spring, his goal now is simple: Inch as close as possible to his 2008 form, in hopes of surpassing it by fall.

“The longer out of surgery, the better you feel,” he said. “And that’s definitely working for me.”