When Griffin steps on the field, he will complete one of the fastest recoveries from such a devastating injury, and slightly nudge up the bar from the mark where Adrian Peterson amazingly set it when he returned to action 254 days after having his own torn anterior cruciate ligament repaired at the tail end of the 2011 season.
But two questions remain: Can the quarterback’s now twice-surgically repaired knee hold up, and can Griffin fulfill his promise to come back better than ever?
Everyone inside Redskins Park believes the answers to both questions are yes.
If so, the team has a realistic chance to repeat as NFC East champions, could make a deep playoff run and develop into perennial contenders. If Griffin battles injury all year and is never the same, however, a franchise that gave up three first-round picks and a second just to be able to draft him with St. Louis’s No. 2 overall pick will take steps backward both in the short and long term.
Griffin has given his teammates and coaches every reason to believe the latter will not happen.
“He looks 100 percent to me. He can fly around. He can make the throws,” offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said. “There’s no gimp at all — obviously he wouldn’t be out there if there was. But he looks good to me. . . . I’m excited to get him out there Week 1.”
Asked if Griffin’s ‘better than ever’ expectations were realistic, Peterson — the super recovery poster child himself — said, “I feel like anything is possible. I’m always trying to root guys on to accomplish their goals. I’ve spoken about things that you have to do to come back, and that’s taking advantage from that first week out of surgery on. If [Griffin] has put in that work, he’ll be able to come back and be successful.”
Griffin did take advantage of every minute possible during his recovery, and even reached out to Peterson, requesting permission to ask his personal trainer for exercises the Redskins’ trainers could implement into his recovery program.
Peterson said he has one final piece of advice for the quarterback, and he planned to share it directly.
“I plan on talking to him before the regular season starts just to tell him, if anything, be mentally tough, be mentally focused and have confidence that your leg is stronger than it was before, so go out and play your game,” said Peterson, who in addition to returning in record time also had a career year with 2,097 rushing yards — just eight yards shy of the NFL single-season record.
Griffin insists that while he does aim to surpass last season’s heroics — which included ranking among the league leaders in accuracy, passer rating and touchdown-to-interception ratio and rushing yards for a rookie quarterback — and while he did aim to return in Peterson-like quickness, he doesn’t feel pressure to rewrite the record book both from a recovery or production standpoint.