Quarterback Robert Griffin III put the progress of his rehabilitation from knee surgery on display Thursday at Redskins Park, running and throwing on the side while his Washington Redskins teammates went through an offseason practice.
Griffin said afterward that his surgically repaired right knee “feels great” and that he hopes to be ready to participate in training camp and open the season in the team’s lineup. He brushed off any notion that his relationship with the organization is in need of mending by saying that he and Coach Mike Shanahan had “hashed everything out” about the handling of Griffin’s injury.
“There was an unfortunate situation there at the end of the season,” Griffin said. “I don’t think there’s anything that needs to be repaired. Obviously we all just need to move forward and continue to just let that bad taste that was in everybody’s mouth just get out and move forward to the next year.
“The only thing that needed a repair from last year was my knee. And that is repaired, and I’m ready to go.”
Griffin did not participate in Thursday’s workout but was on the field. He dropped back and threw passes to wide receiver Pierre Garcon, tight end Fred Davis and other players also rehabilitating from injuries and not participating in the drills.
Griffin’s throws were relatively crisp. He appeared to be able to plant on his right leg and deliver passes, although he and his receivers were moving at far from full speed. Griffin also did some running near the beginning of the practice.
“The knee feels great,” Griffin said later at a news conference. “I’m able to do all the stuff out there without any hesitation. So that’s the best part about it. I’m excited about that. It’s all about having that confidence. If you put the work in, you’ll have that confidence when you get back out there on the field. It’s about playing like you were never injured.”
The Redskins began the offseason workouts, known as organized team activities, this week. This was the first session that was open to media members.
“He works his butt off every day,” left tackle Trent Williams said. “We’re not worried about Robert.” He added that backup quarterback Kirk Cousins was getting “some well-needed reps” with the starting offense.
Griffin, the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year last season, wore a brace on his right knee. He wasn’t in uniform and was dressed in a black long-sleeve shirt and burgundy shorts. He underwent surgery in January for tears of his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments.
“He looks good to me,” Davis said. “I think he looks definitely ahead of schedule. I mean, you could never probably tell that he messed up his knee, the way that he’s coming out and rolling out and throwing the ball as well as he is. . . . After he got his surgery, he was already walking around, like an alien. I don’t know if he’s real.”
Griffin said there are two phases remaining in his rehabilitation. He will begin explosive sprinting in a couple weeks and begin making cuts a few weeks after that, he said. The Redskins begin training camp July 25 and are scheduled to open the season Sept. 9.
“My goal is to be out there for training camp,” Griffin said. “Do I need to practice every day? Probably not. But that’s for coach to decide. I’m just worrying about what I can control.
“As far as the season goes, I know everyone has seen the commercial and the statement, ‘I’m all in for Week 1.’ And I stand behind that. I want to be ready for Week 1. That’s my goal. As soon as I woke up out of surgery, I put the date of the first game in my phone, and it was the pass code on my phone for a month while I was down there in Pensacola. That’s always been the goal. But once again, I’m not going to risk my career to play in one game.”
Griffin said his style of play will change a bit.
“I can’t change my mind-set,” Griffin said. “But I can be smarter about what I do out there. . . . It’s about limiting those hits, making sure that I’m staying out there for my teammates. If it’s third and seven and I’m three yards away from the first down and here comes Ryan Clark trying to take my head off like he did last year, you slide or you get out of bounds. I understand that. I understood it there during the season as well. But after what happened to me and what happened to this team at the end of the year, I understand that I have to be more careful when it comes to that.”
Griffin said that he and Shanahan, who was sharply criticized for allowing Griffin to continue playing in the playoff game in which he reinjured his knee, had spoken about the matter without any apologies being issued.
“Coach and them, they know exactly what they’re doing,” Griffin said. “We’ve had talks about the offense. . . . It’s not that ‘you can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ It’s more we’ve just got to go out there and be united as a team, united as a staff, to go out there and be successful.”
Said Shanahan: “You talk about the things that you could have done differently, things that went poorly during the season, things that went well. But overall we had a great conversation.”
Griffin said he “didn’t have a problem” with how he was used in the Redskins’ offense last season, but he thinks that his injury “clouded the success that we had the whole season, and I think it left a bad taste in the mouth of everybody.”
He said he spoke to his father after his father said he hopes to see his son throw the ball more and run with it less next season. Griffin said he thanked his father for looking out for him.
Shanahan reiterated his belief that the Redskins’ use of option-style running plays with Griffin last season helped to safeguard Griffin by slowing down opposing pass rushes. He praised Griffin’s competitiveness and said Griffin realizes he must play with more caution but was noncommittal on whether the team’s offensive system will be tweaked to minimize the injury risks for Griffin.
“We’re going to try to protect Robert as much as we can,” Shanahan said. “We’re going to let him do the things that we think he does the best, and hopefully it’ll be as productive.”
Griffin expressed wariness that “everyone is going to be really hypersensitive” about even minor injuries that he suffers in the future. He also said he cried when he found out after his surgery that his ACL had been repaired after hoping beforehand that only his LCL would need to be fixed, but he moved on quickly after that and steeled himself for the rehab process that was to come.
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