Robert Griffin III jogged up a short flight of stairs Saturday and then warmed up the crowd with jumping jacks.
At the Washington Redskins’ draft party, Griffin’s first public appearance at FedEx Field since suffering a knee injury Jan. 6, the team’s starting quarterback — and one of the superstars of the 2012 NFL season — smiled and put his right knee through a few light tests for all to see.
“I’m good. You guys saw me jumping,” said Griffin, who was the 2012 rookie of the year after passing for 3,200 yards and rushing for 815. “I mean, I can run a little bit, so I’ll be good. No worries. I’ll take it slow, but at the same time, I’ll be ready to go.”
The last time Griffin was on his home stadium’s turf, his right knee gave out as he tried to recover a bad snap in the fourth quarter of a first-round playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He later received a diagnosis of a torn lateral collateral ligament and a damaged anterior cruciate ligament, both of which were repaired the following week by James Andrews, the renowned sports orthopedist and a member of the Redskins’ medical staff.
The injury put Griffin’s immediate, and perhaps long-term, future in doubt and ignited questions about whether he should’ve been playing at that point in the game. He appeared to have injured the knee earlier against Seattle, but Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan opted to leave Griffin in the lineup.
On Saturday, Griffin was introduced to the familiar “RGIII! RGIII!” cheers, and a video recounted some of the highlights of his rookie season. He told the crowd that his favorites were when the Redskins “spanked” the Dallas Cowboys during a game on Thanksgiving Day and his 76-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings, a play he called a “classic.”
“We had a lot of good moments,” he said of last season, when the Redskins responded to a 3-6 start with a seven-game win streak and an NFC East championship.
But the most interesting thing wasn’t looking back; it was wondering if Griffin would be healthy enough to begin the 2013 season in the starting lineup, and if he’d be the same electrifying player who captivated the NFL last season.
Rather than tell the several thousand in attendance that his knee was healing, Griffin tried to show them, stopping a brief question-and-answer session from fans to jump several times on the stage.
“He saw me bouncing up here, so we’re going to bounce on next year, too,” Griffin said. “Everybody start jumping, baby. Let’s go!”
The Redskins haven’t said when Griffin will be ready for football activities. The team’s first regular season game will be Sept. 9, when it hosts the Philadelphia Eagles. If Griffin plays in that game, he would do so exactly eight months since undergoing knee surgery in Pensacola, Fla.
It’s also unclear how much, if at all, Griffin’s role will change. A dynamic and effective scrambler, Griffin’s speed also put him in frequent danger. He missed the second half of the Redskins’ Week 5 game with a concussion and later injured his right knee in a December game against Baltimore. He missed the next game but returned the following week, wearing a knee brace that limited his mobility.
When another fan asked Saturday about the read option, one of the Redskins’ and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s favorite plays last season, Griffin wouldn’t say that he’d be abandoning it.
“It’s something that I’ve done my whole career, so I’m not against it,” he said. “But it’s not something that we’re going to have to work on, so we’re working on other things in our offense, so we can open up everything else.”