Last week marked one month since the quarterback received clearance to resume the most strenuous running and cutting drills. Since then he has continued to work on making cuts, drop-backs, roll-outs and other movements with greater fluidity, speed and explosiveness. Glowing reviews have flowed out of Redskins Park throughout Griffin’s rehabilitation process as the quarterback has been ahead of schedule all offseason.
If the Redskins do hold back Griffin, they would open camp with second-year quarterback Kirk Cousins as the starter, as was the case during all of this year’s offseason practices.
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Cousins, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan State last year, appeared in three regular season games and the final minutes of Washington’s lone playoff game after Griffin injured his knee. For the season, Cousins completed 68.8 percent of his passes (33 for 48) for 466 yards and four touchdowns passes with three interceptions. His best showing came in Week 15, when he started in place of Griffin and led Washington to a 38-21 victory over the Browns while completing 26 of 37 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Cousins spent the offseason preparing as if Griffin would miss time. Coaches and teammates observed a more polished Cousins and say they would have no problem with him leading the first team throughout the preseason and into the regular season if need be.
“There’s never a situation out there where he’s caught off-guard,” quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur said of Cousins. “He’s played in a couple games, and watching his demeanor out there, he just looks more comfortable and more confident. His play has really improved. We’ve got all the confidence in the world in [Cousins], just like we did going into that Cleveland game, and I think he proved to the world and his teammates that he’s ready to produce.”
Health-related questions remain regarding a number of other key players. Last season, Washington played the bulk of the season without top pass-rusher Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral muscle), defensive end Adam Carriker (torn quadriceps tendon), tight end Fred Davis (torn Achilles’ tendon), and strong safety Brandon Meriweather (torn ACL). The team also had to go without top wide receiver Pierre Garcon for 10 games, mainly because of a torn ligament in one of his toes. Garcon also had shoulder surgery this offseason.
Orakpo practiced fully throughout the offseason and aims to return to his two-time Pro Bowl form and spark a pass-rush that struggled mightily in his absence last season. And Garcon received clearance from Andrews last week.
The Redskins hope Davis and Meriweather will open camp on the practice field. Meantime, Carriker is expected to be placed on the PUP list after having a second surgery this offseason.