Kyle Shanahan: Whether Robert Griffin III faces Browns is “not really up to me”

December 13, 2012

Kyle Shanahan said whether Robert Griffin III plays in Cleveland depends on how stable his knee is and if the rookie quarterback can protect himself. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Redskins Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan knows that Robert Griffin III will do everything within his power this week at practice to prove he’s ready to play in Cleveland. But no matter how much the rookie quarterback appears to have recovered from his right knee sprain, whether Griffin faces the Browns will be determined mainly with his long-term health in mind.

“It’s not really up to me. I wait and see,” Shanahan said. “Robert’s not the type of guy who’s going to show up Sunday and give it a shot, I think he’ll push himself during this week so we all will be able to watch him and get an idea, mainly from a medical standpoint. I think Robert’s going to be able to show us that he can move well. It’s more, is his knee stable enough, can he protect himself in there and is there a risk of further injury?”

Griffin practiced in a limited capacity for a second straight day Thursday, but by all accounts looked “better” and more comfortable than he did a day before, Coach Mike Shanahan said. Still, both head coach and offensive coordinator insisted that they likely wouldn’t know until Sunday whether Griffin or Kirk Cousins would start against the Browns.

If Griffin can’t protect himself “then there’s no chance of him going out there” Kyle Shanahan said.

While Griffin works to regain his health, the debate over how to best protect him has picked up full steam again. Both of his significant injuries this season — the LCL sprain last week and the concussion against Atlanta in Week 5 — came when he was on the run; but Shanahan said he didn’t have any problem with Griffin’s decision to stay in bounds and try to pick up additional yards on the play that resulted in his injury against Baltimore. 

“He got hurt. I wish he didn’t do that, but you can’t decide that,” Shanahan said. “It’s our biggest game of the year, we’re playing for the playoffs, it’s at the end of the game, 2 minute drive. Robert, I think in a normal situation, hopefully stays out of bounds but he’s doing everything he can to win the game there and I definitely have no problem with that.”

Shanahan said he didn’t see replay of the hit on Griffin by Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata until he watched SportsCenter Sunday night and that, like everyone else, he’s been pleasantly surprised by how quickly the rookie has improved this week.

“The way [Ngata] hit Robert and collided into his knee was pretty scary,” Shanahan said. “But I always joke with Robert, I call him ‘Gumby’ because he gets in some weird positions and his body seems to – I’ve thought he was hurt a number of times and he gets back up. That one was a little different, he didn’t see the guy coming and just collided with his knee and hyper-extended a bit and I’ve been pretty impressed with how he’s bounced back from it so far.”

Shanahan acknowledged that not knowing whether Griffin or Cousins will face Cleveland has made his game planning more challenging and forced him to be a “little more open minded” with how he plans the Redskins’ attack. But he’s not exactly feeling sorry for himself, either.

“I put myself in check when I start to get a little frustrated with it because I know it’s probably a little more frustrating for [the Browns] than it is for me,” Shanahan said. 

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Mark Maske · December 13, 2012