Although quarterback Robert Griffin III and Coach Mike Shanahan both have pointed to the Washington Redskins’ regular season opener next month as the target for Griffin’s return to the lineup, the team acknowledged Monday that the orthopedic surgeon who repaired Griffin’s right knee in January has not given his final approval of that plan.
Orthopedist James Andrews observed Griffin participating in drills before Washington’s 24-13 preseason victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night at FedEx Field, then examined Griffin’s knee and discussed plans for the next steps in the quarterback’s rehabilitation with Griffin and Redskins officials.
But Andrews did not make a final recommendation about Griffin’s playing status for the season opener Sept. 9 and no firm decisions were Monday, according to those involved in the deliberations. Shanahan said that Andrews will re-examine Griffin following the Redskins’ preseason finale Aug. 29 in Tampa.
“I did talk with Dr. Andrews before the game,” Shanahan said. “He feels great about Robert’s progress. He really feels the same was as he did before camp with practice. He feels good about him practicing. He doesn’t feel like we should put him in any [preseason] games. He’s going to re-evaluate him after the Tampa game and then he’ll make a decision, at least from his perspective, where he’s at. . . . If there is no setback, he thinks he’ll be ready.”
Griffin said during a sideline interview Monday night with ESPN, which broadcast the game, that the decision about his playing status for the opener might not be made until the day before the game.
“It could come up to the Sunday before the game,” Griffin said. “There’s no rush. It’s just about us all being on the same page. And I already actually talked to [Andrews] and we met. He says everything looks good. We’ve just got to keep going from here.”
Of Andrews witnessing his pregame workout, Griffin said: “It felt good. I wanted him to see that. He needs to be here to see me. He’s been busy saving lives, kissing babies. He’s real impressed with what’s going on.”
ESPN reported during its telecast that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder had told the network that Andrews alone would make the decision about Griffin’s status for the season opener. Snyder did not respond to a request for comment.
“If Dr. Andrews felt that his knee wasn’t ready, we surely wouldn’t play him,” Shanahan said. “I don’t know what the communication was. I hate to make a comment on what hearsay is. I’m not exactly sure what was said. But we surely wouldn’t play him if we didn’t feel it was in the best interests of Robert and this organization to play him.”
Andrews performed surgery on Griffin’s knee in January to repair tears of the anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments. Monday was the first time that Andrews had seen Griffin in person since the week before the Redskins opened training camp late last month in Richmond. Andrews cleared Griffin at that point to participate in training camp.
Andrews stood on the field Monday with Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen and Larry Hess, the team’s head athletic trainer, while Griffin went through a series of drills before the game. Griffin spent about 40 minutes doing the drills and had sweat dripping off him when he was finished.
Griffin threw passes to wide receivers Donte Stallworth, Chip Reeves and Nick Williams. He took shotgun snaps, performed drop-backs and rollouts to the left and right, made throws on the run and went through change-of-direction drills.
Griffin did not play Monday night and Shanahan has said he will withhold the quarterback from the entire four-game preseason. But Shanahan has said he expects Griffin to be ready to play in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field unless Griffin suffers a setback. Griffin has said he has no doubt that he will play against the Eagles.
Shanahan has eased Griffin back toward full-time duties. Griffin did not participate in full-team drills in training camp until last week. He has expressed his disagreement with Shanahan’s plan, saying he does not fully understand it. Griffin has said he wanted to return to full-team drills sooner and would prefer to play in the preseason.
But Griffin, after expressing his disagreement last week with Shanahan’s plan, made an unscheduled appearance before members of the media the following day to say there is no conflict between him and Shanahan. Shanahan has said he is doing what he thinks is best for Griffin, not necessarily what the quarterback wants. Allen said late last week that he saw no controversy in the issues involving Shanahan and Griffin.
“We’re hoping there’s no setback,” Shanahan said Monday. “He’s been doing great. There’s no reason to have a setback, but you never know. We’re gonna have two more weeks of practice and we’re gonna put him situations like we’ve been doing over the last 3 1/2 weeks, and keep our fingers crossed that there isn’t a setback. And if there isn’t, then he should be ready for Philly.”
Kirk Cousins made his second start of the preseason Monday as the team’s fill-in starter for Griffin but left the game in the second quarter with what the team called a sprained right foot.
Mike Jones contributed to this report.