Dr. James Andrews said while Robert Griffin III is way ahead of schedule, his goal is to ensure that Griffin doesn’t return to action prematurely. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Orthopedic surgeon James Andrews says that Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “way ahead of schedule” in his recovery from the reconstruction of his right knee in January. But Andrews said his goal is to do what’s best for Griffin and his career – instead of rushing him back for the start of the season.

Andrews–regarded as one of the nation’s top orthopedic surgeons–also is employed by the Redskins and stands on their sidelines for every game. He made the comments in an appearance on the NFL Network Friday.

“We have him well on his way. He is an unbelievable athlete, as you well know. His recovery is way ahead of schedule so far,” Andrews said in the interview. “We don’t have to do much but try to hold him back, if you want to know the truth. Our whole mode for him, though, is to do what is best for his career, not necessarily what is best for the first game next season. So all of that has to be put on hold and let him get well.”

That should encourage Redskins fans who are worried about their franchise quarterback rushing back prematurely. Almost immediately after his surgery, Griffin had declared his intentions of returning by the start of the 2013 season, and he had stuck by that until last week.

Last week, shortly after he tweeted the link to a new Adidas commercial that ended with the line “All in for Week 1,” Griffin softened his stance, conceding that although he hopes  to return for the season’s first game, he understands that he can’t jeopardize his career. He added that only God, Andrews and the team’s medical staff will determine when he could return to the field.

Andrews, who had declined multiple interview requests since the surgery to reconstruct the ACL in Griffin’s right knee and repair the torn LCL and meniscus in the same knee, echoed that more cautious, yet still optimistic school of thought.

Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson’s speedy recovery, which featured a 2,000-yard season in 2012 after he tore his ACL on Dec. 24, 2011,) is often cited in the same discussions on the timeline for Griffin’s return. But it’s worth noting that Peterson isn’t the first player to tear his ACL and return to action.

Back on Jan. 8, 2006, then-Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer tore his ACL in the playoffs versus Pittsburgh. But he returned to the field for the third preseason game of the 2007 season – seven months after his surgery – went on to play all 16 games that year and threw for a career-high 4,131 yards and 26 touchdowns. Now, Palmer is primarily a stationary quarterback who doesn’t rely on his legs to scramble as Griffin does. But it does show that such a comeback is within the realm of possibility.

Follow Mike Jones on Twitter.