Garcon says Griffin’s mending knee is the elephant in the room

Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garcon during training camp (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

Robert Griffin III and Pierre Garcon during training camp. (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon said Wednesday that the surgically repaired right knee of quarterback Robert Griffin III is “the elephant… in the room” with the Washington Redskins struggling on offense and off to an 0-2 start.

Garcon said it “definitely didn’t help us, as we can see now” that Griffin missed the entire four-game preseason and it’s “common sense” that Griffin’s knee brace is slowing him down during games. Garcon suggested that Griffin’s mending knee might have him second-guessing himself but he contended that the Redskins still can win games now with Griffin at quarterback.

“I think I still play with a little bit of swagger,” Garcon said in the locker room at Redskins Park. “I can only control what I do and go out there and play hard for myself. I definitely try to motivate my team and motivate the guys around me to play hard and do well. But, you know, we obviously know the elephant’s in the room. We already know what it is. But we just have to continue to deal with that and continue to play. It’s not something that can be avoided. It’s going to be talked about all year no matter what we do, no matter if we win or lose. It’s gonna be talked about. So we just have to continue to play and play for our jobs.”

Asked to clarify what he meant by the elephant in the room, Garcon said: “Everybody’s talking about the injury, the injury that’s been talked about ever since January, Robert’s knee and his knee brace and what he can and can’t do, and if he’s prepared or not, and if he’s ready to go. But we definitely have to keep moving forward, keep battling, keep putting our nose to the ground and keep working hard.”

Griffin underwent knee surgery in January. He started the season opener after being eased back toward full-time duties by Coach Mike Shanahan during training camp and held out of the entire preseason. Griffin lobbied to play during the preseason but Shanahan did not allow it, saying he thought Griffin could be prepared to play during the season with full-speed practices.

“It’s always tough to not have any actual preseason games and try to come into the full speed of the regular season,” Garcon said Wednesday. “That definitely didn’t help us, as we can see now. But it’s a situation that you have to deal with. You don’t want to get hurt in the preseason. That’ll cause more controversy and drama around here. But you’ve got to make a decision and live with it. We made the decision not to play him in preseason. Now we’re living with it. We just have to get better.”

The Redskins have been unable to get their offense moving in the first two games, at least while the games were still competitive, and many analysts have said Griffin does not resemble the dynamic player who was last season’s NFL offensive rookie of the year.

“I really don’t know,” Garcon said. “We’re calling the same plays. He’s making the same reads. He’s throwing the ball. I don’t see anything that jumps out besides obviously the knee brace is on his leg and he’s trying to protect himself, protect his team and protect the offense and do everything that we’re trying to be smart about everything.”

Garcon said it’s clear to him that the presence of the brace on Griffin’s right knee is affecting his play.

“It’s just like when you have extra equipment on,” Garcon said. “You definitely can’t move as fluid and as fast as you could if you didn’t have it on. It’s common sense, really. If you carry extra stuff on you, you’re not gonna be as fast as you were without it.”

Yet Garcon said that Griffin can succeed even with the current limitations.

“It doesn’t affect his ability to win games or not because as football players, you definitely have to protect yourself,” Garcon said. “And you definitely have to get comfortable with extra stuff on. But it’s just a mind-set and it’s definitely he’s a quarterback. He uses his arm more than his legs. But that’s what makes him special is his legs, the ability [of what] he can do with his legs. When you take a little bit of that away, you just kind of start to second-guess yourself as a player. But we know what you can do with his arm. We know what he can do with his arm. And that doesn’t change if he has a knee brace or if he has ankle weights on, rubber bands around his legs or nothing. It doesn’t really change the fact that he can win games with his arm or with his legs.”

Garcon said that he and the team’s other wide receivers must do their part to aid Griffin and increase the productivity of the offense. The offense still can be as productive as it was last season, according to Garcon.

“Oh, yeah,” he said. “We actually got better. We’re actually a better offense from last year. We’re a lot smarter. We know what we’ve got. We’ve got a lot more talent. We’re more comfortable. It’s just we definitely have to figure it out. That’s all. We have great players in here. There’s nothing that’s outstanding that’s making us bad.”

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesday.

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What’s ahead:

● A post on Alfred Morris and his lack of preseason work.

● Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III address reporters at 3 p.m.

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