4:25 PM ET, September 29, 2013
O.co Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Although at least one teammate feels Robert Griffin III has yet to return to his elite form, the Washington Redskins have reason to believe they can recover from the franchise's worst start in 12 years.
Perhaps a matchup with a banged-up Oakland Raiders team is what they need to begin that turnaround.
The visiting Redskins try again for their first win Sunday when they face an Oakland team that could be without starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
While Griffin displayed a little bit more running ability last week, he lost a fumble on an awkward dive at the end of a 21-yard scramble in the fourth quarter of a 27-20 loss to Detroit. His fifth turnover of the season proved to be a key play in the Lions' first win in 22 trips to Washington.
Griffin ran the ball a season-high six times for 37 yards but also had a career-high 50 pass attempts, failing to throw for a touchdown despite posting his third straight 300-yard game. He's averaging 46.3 pass attempts, more than Matthew Stafford's NFL record of 45.4 set last year, largely because Washington (0-3) has been outscored 67-21 in the first half.
The Redskins, though, still believe they can bounce back, as they did last season by rallying from a 3-6 start with seven straight victories to win the NFC East.
"I don't think this team has lost its sense of confidence," Griffin said. "We know how close we are. We know we can turn it around and we're built to get out of this hole, just like we were last year."
However, that was before Griffin suffered a serious knee injury in a playoff loss to Seattle. Griffin has come back this season to complete 63.3 percent of his passes for 975 yards with five touchdowns, but he also has four interceptions and has run for 4.1 yards per carry after averaging 6.8 in 2012.
While the quarterback insists he's healthy after his rehab from offseason knee surgery, wideout Pierre Garcon feels Griffin has yet to regain the form that earned him NFL offensive rookie of the year honors last season.
"He's not fully healthy, obviously," said Garcon, who has team highs of 23 catches and 280 yards. "He's running a little bit more, but last year's RG3 was a lot different than this year's RG because of his knee. It's not surprising -- we've been talking about it the whole offseason. ... I don't think he's 100 percent, but he's definitely giving 100 percent effort to get 100 percent."
Griffin will try to help Washington end its worst start since opening 0-5 in 2001 while facing an Oakland defense that allowed 536 total yards in Monday's 37-21 loss at Denver.
The Raiders (1-2) have injury concerns on both sides of the ball. Safety Tyvon Branch remains out with an ankle injury and cornerback Tracy Porter returned to practice Wednesday after sustaining a concussion.
Oakland could be without Pryor, who was knocked out of Monday's contest in the fourth quarter after a hard hit to the helmet. He was approved for full contact Friday and split reps in practice with Matt Flynn, who would make his third career start and first as a Raider if Pryor can't go.
Coach Dennis Allen said Pryor is making "a lot of progress" and passed all the concussion protocol tests required by the NFL, but the team wants him to take one more test Saturday.
"It's not something we have to do," Allen said. "It's something we want to do."
Pryor, who beat out Flynn for the starting job in the preseason, has competed 53 of 81 passes for 624 yards with touchdowns and two interceptions. His biggest weapon, however, might be his legs, having rushed for 198 yards to rank fourth in the AFC among all players.
Flynn isn't nearly as mobile, part of the reason why he ended up the backup. He's connected on 55 of 81 passes for 731 yards with nine touchdowns and two picks in two career starts -- both while with Green Bay.
"It's a few tweaks here and there really," offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "Obviously you'll be able to add the option of some of the things we're doing with Terrelle in the run game. But to be honest with you, since Terrelle has taken over, we've done some of those things when Matt has gotten in and taken some of the few reps that he has. He's done some of those things and he's comfortable with that. He's obviously not the athlete that Terrelle is but as far as knowing when to pull the ball and when to hand it off, he's good at that."
Regardless of who gets the start, Oakland has to feel confident about moving the ball against a Redskins team that has allowed a league-high 488.0 yards per game.
"Too many mistakes, poor tackling, blown assignments on defense," linebacker Bryan Kehl said.
The Redskins have won their last two trips to Oakland, including 34-13 in 2009 in the most recent meeting.
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|Avg Points Allowed||28.0||22.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
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|Pass Yds Allowed||WSH|
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Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Washington leads 2-1|
|Dec 13, 2009||WSH 34, @OAK 13|
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