Mike Shanahan officially names Robert Griffin the starter for Redskins in NFL season opener

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post - The numerous evaluations have been completed. Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Robert Griffin III will start for the Redskins in their season opener Monday against the Eagles.

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan made official what had long been expected, naming Robert Griffin III his starter for Washington’s Week 1 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Griffin received clearance from orthopedic surgeon James Andrews on Thursday evening to play in the season opener, but Shanahan declined at the time to declare the second-year quarterback his starter because he said Andrews told him there were “a couple of concerns that he had” and that he needed to talk with Griffin over the weekend first.

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Shanahan said Monday that he, Andrews, Griffin, General Manager Bruce Allen, head trainer Larry Hess and other members of the team’s medical personnel took part in a conference call Sunday.

“We had a good conversation,” Shanahan said. “Dr. Andrews went over a couple of his concerns, and we talked about different things he talked to me about in Tampa. I feel very good where Robert’s at, and he’ll be our starter on Monday night unless there’s some crazy setback that we don’t anticipate.”

Shanahan added, “We’re all on the same page, and we’re excited to get going.”

Shanahan declined to share the details of the discussion or what “concerns” Andrews had shared.

Andrews denied Shanahan’s claim Friday, saying in a text message, “None of it is true. No concerns.”

Told on Monday of the doctor’s declaration and asked why Andrews would have said that, Shanahan scoffed at the notion Andrews had no concerns and said, “I don’t know where you got that information from because that’s not what he shared with Robert. That’s not what he shared with me or Dr. Christopher Annunziata, Dr. Anthony Casolaro or with Robert when we had the conference call.”

Regardless, Shanahan said Griffin indeed will start against the Eagles on what will represent the eight-month mark since his surgery to reconstruct his right knee, in which he tore multiple ligaments during Washington’s playoff loss to Seattle.

Griffin has cleared every hurdle he has faced during his recovery and has practiced without limitation for the last two weeks. On Monday he continued to take every first-team snap as his team began preparation for Monday’s meeting with the Eagles. And as a result, Shanahan said nothing ever really changed in his mind.

“I think I’ve told you from Day 1 that Robert was going to be our starter unless there’s a setback,” Shanahan said. “I’ve told you that the last month, so I don’t know why it’s a surprise that Robert’s our starter. All I said was I talked to Dr. Andrews, who gave him a physical, and there was a couple concerns, and I shared that with Robert, who also was in my office, and I also told you that after the game. So I don’t think it’s any big surprise that Robert’s the starter. But I still say if something happens this week and there’s a setback, then something could happen.”

It remains to be seen how the Redskins use Griffin and what they do to protect him from reinjuring his now twice surgically repaired knee. Will offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan scale back on the zone-read option plays Griffin ran to such perfection last season, baffling defenses on his way to a record-setting rookie campaign? Will the Redskins have to use Griffin in a more traditional manner?

“Well, you’re going to have to come to the game. You’re going to have to decide yourself what we’re doing,” Mike Shanahan said with a chuckle.

The coach made it clear, however, that he has no concerns about the stability of Griffin’s knee and said he expects to use the quarterback in full capacity.

“You’re always trying to take a look at what’s in the best interest of your football team, obviously the health of your football team as well,” Shanahan said. “But if we didn’t feel like Robert was full-go and he wasn’t ready to play and do all the things that you ask a guy to do, then he would not be playing in this game. We believe he can do everything that a quarterback is asked to do, and if that’s sprinting out, if it’s running the option, if it’s dropping back, we think he can do all those things because he’s proved it to us in practice, and there hasn’t been a setback, so that’s been a great sign.”

Griffin wasn’t made available to reporters, but his teammates said they had no doubt their quarterback would be ready to go by the start of the season and that they look forward to kicking off the 2013 campaign with all of their top players healthy.

“I’m excited that we have our team together, and he’s a part of that. He’s a part of what we did last year,” wide receiver Santana Moss said of Griffin. “As a receiver, we know how much he meant to us and how much he meant to this offense. I’m just excited to get rolling. Whether we see what we see, who knows? But we know that we have a lot to build on from where we’re starting at today to get to that moment. So every week is a week we can get better because we know the time that he’s missed, we can only get better.”

Notes:Washington agreed to a contract restructuring with defensive tackle Barry Cofield to save room on this season’s salary cap, according to a person familiar with the situation. The reworking of Cofield’s contract saves the Redskins about $2.4 million in salary cap space.

Cofield was to have a salary of $4.05 million this season. Instead, his base salary is reduced to $840,000 and he receives $3.21 million in bonus money.

Cofield practiced Monday while wearing a club cast on his fractured right hand and said he hopes to play next week. Shanahan said strong safety Brandon Meriweather’s status remains uncertain for the opener. Meriweather has spent the preseason working his way back from surgery last fall to repair a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.

 
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