After watching Robert Griffin III in practices the past two weeks, several Washington Redskins said they firmly believe he will be the team’s starting quarterback in the Sept. 9 regular season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Orthopedist James Andrews, who repaired Griffin’s damaged right knee in January, must give final approval before Griffin is cleared to play, but several people who have been involved in Redskins’ practices said Griffin has taken practically all of the snaps with the starting offense last week and this week and he has closely resembled the dynamic player who was named the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year last season.
“He’s been looking ready,” Redskins wide receiver Santana Moss said Tuesday.
Fellow wideout Pierre Garcon expressed similar sentiments, saying: “He’s running around, throwing the ball. Arm’s good. Legs are good. He’s practiced, and we practice hard. . . . He looks great to me, tell you the truth.”
Another person with knowledge of the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, said he senses that the pending exam of Griffin’s knee by Andrews is being regarded by many at Redskins Park as merely a formality.
“He’s taking all the snaps with the ones,” that person said, referring to the starters. “He’s looking great. I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s playing and I think everyone in the building is looking at it that way. I think they look at that last checkup as a done deal.”
One player who spoke on the condition that he not be identified said he likewise believes it’s virtually certain that Griffin will play in the opener.
Coach Mike Shanahan said Tuesday that he expects Andrews, who repaired tears of Griffin’s anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in January, to be in Tampa for the Redskins’ preseason finale Thursday and to reexamine Griffin’s knee then. Andrews will make a recommendation after that exam, according to Shanahan, regarding Griffin’s playing status for the regular season. ESPN recently reported that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said the decision about Griffin’s availability for the opening of the season would be made solely by Andrews.
Andrews cleared Griffin to practice at the outset of training camp and examined Griffin’s knee last week when the Redskins played the Pittsburgh Steelers in a preseason game at FedEx Field.
Shanahan has said he expects Griffin to play against the Eagles unless his knee suffers a setback. Shanahan said after Andrews’s most recent exam of Griffin’s knee that Andrews felt the same way. Griffin said after last week’s exam that Andrews told him to stay the course and everything looked good.
“They’ve already said that he’s going to be playing on Monday night so I shouldn’t have [any] doubt,” Moss said Tuesday. “That’s why he’s not playing the preseason, because his game — the game that he would be out there with everybody on— is the first game of the season.”
Griffin said during a radio interview Tuesday with ESPN980 he feels he is 100 percent recovered. The Redskins declined to make Griffin available for further comment. He usually participates in weekly news conferences but was not made available by the team in such a setting this week.
Shanahan said Tuesday he hopes that Griffin is 100 percent but he wants to continue to judge the quarterback’s progress on a daily basis. Shanahan also said: “I have not seen a setback. He looks good. Like I said, I’ve seen much improvement from the first day to where he’s at now, when he first came out, just in his ability to move, his ability to scramble, just the ease [with] which he practices.”
Shanahan said that Griffin “had a good practice [Monday] and he had a good practice [Tuesday]. . . . You can see he’s in football shape. And there hasn’t been a setback. So everything has been very positive.”
Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan said Tuesday that Griffin “looks as healthy as he has,” and added: “He’s getting a lot more reps. He got a lot more yesterday. . . . It’s just been good to get him out there and getting reps and stuff and going full speed.”
Kyle Shanahan declined to assess whether Griffin’s knee is fully recovered but also said: “He looks 100 percent to me. He can fly around. He can make the throws. There’s no gimp at all. Obviously he wouldn’t be out there if it was. But, I mean, he looks good to me. I think everything from a coaching standpoint is about getting the rust off. Not being there through all of training camp to OTAs, you have some rust and it showed up more three weeks ago. He’s gotten better each practice. I’m excited to get him out there Week 1.”
The Redskins eased Griffin back toward full-time duties during training camp and are withholding him from the entire four-game preseason. But the Redskins hope that Griffin’s work in practices will be enough to have him ready to face the Eagles.
“He looks like his old self again,” tight end Niles Paul said. “I see him playing around, sliding in practice, doing a whole lot of stuff that you’d think Robert wouldn’t be able to do or wouldn’t be comfortable doing. But no, he looks like nothing ever happened.”