‘Fair game to the defense’
The return-to-play decisions about Griffin are being made by doctors rather than by the Redskins’ coaching staff, under NFL guidelines. Griffin practiced Wednesday only after being cleared by a team physician and an independent neurological consultant, as league rules require. He first underwent neuropsychological testing and demonstrated that he could exercise at game-like intensity without a recurrence of concussion symptoms, and doctors continued to evaluate him throughout the week. The Redskins cautioned that any setback, even on Saturday or early Sunday, still could result in Griffin not playing against the Vikings.
Griffin said at midweek that he wouldn’t lose his aggressiveness as a player but he would be smarter when circumstances called for it, putting himself at less risk. He said he ran out of bounds and feigned a slide during Wednesday’s practice — Griffin was practicing then on a non-contact basis but quarterbacks aren’t hit during NFL practices as a general rule, anyway — and that drew an ovation from his teammates.
But the Redskins aren’t pledging to overhaul their offense. Or at least they aren’t broadcasting that to future opponents. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Thursday that “if he’s cleared and he’s healthy, then you go into it the same way you always do,” adding that he never wanted Griffin to run with the ball too often even before the concussion.
“I feel if I went into a game thinking I had to call a different game because if he got hit he was going to get hurt, then he shouldn’t be playing,” Shanahan said. “If he’s cleared, he’s cleared. He’s okay. That’s my assumption.”
The issue, it seems, isn’t going away.
“It’s the same idea that has always been talked about with him being a quarterback,” Redskins fullback Darrel Young said. “He’s a running quarterback. He’s fair game to the defense. He’ll protect himself. He’ll get better with it. He’ll learn that. I’m not saying guys in the NFL hit harder. But they pursue faster. So that’s the difference between college and the NFL, the speed of the game.
“He’ll adjust. He’s still a rookie. He’s still learning a lot of things. We all are. They’re putting him in the best situation possible. He’s probably helping them, too, just in terms of what he thinks on things. It goes either way. I think he’s doing a great job. The coaches are doing a great job with him. . . . He’s going to take a hit. You can stand in the pocket — you’re going to be mad if he gets hit [there] the way he does on the option. It’s football.”