Three days removed from the concussion that knocked him out of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III practiced Wednesday and said he was confident he would be under center when the Redskins play the Minnesota Vikings at home Sunday.
Griffin, who absorbed no hits during the Wednesday practice, said he has experienced no concussion symptoms since his head cleared about 15 minutes after the tackle by Atlanta linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. He acknowledged that the final decision about playing Sunday is not his, but said he is prepared to play.
“There’s never a doubt as a player. You always feel like you’re ready to go,” Griffin said. “But [trainer] Larry [Hess] and the guys are doing their job. They’re taking the proper precautions to make sure I’m ready to go, that I don’t have any symptoms and I keep getting evaluated every day.”
Griffin said he has learned from the experience. During Wednesday’s practice he ran out of bounds once and slid at the end of another run, drawing a loud cheer from his teammates.
“There are times to break the pocket and make plays,” he said. “And then there’s times to just take the checkdown, take what they’re giving you and just know that the guy you’re throwing to is going to try as hard as he can to get the first [down].”
But he doesn’t expect the injury to make him tentative on the field.
“It doesn’t make you less aggressive, but it’s a learning lesson,” he said. “The one thing I learned is I can’t do that to my team, to the fans or my family. Because a life is more important than the game of football. These things that happen to us, getting hurt, getting hit in the head, affects us down the road, and I’ve got to limit that. . . . I’ve got to make sure I keep myself safe while still being the same player that I am, but keep myself safe so my family and my fans and my teammates aren’t let down.”
Coach Mike Shanahan said Griffin will continue to run the ball when the defense dictates that he take off, and agreed with the quarterback’s overall assessment.
“He had a good practice today,” Shanahan said at his daily briefing. “He was limited in practice, but I thought he performed well. He had no symptoms, at least that’s what he shared with me. . . . So far, so good,” the coach said.
Griffin took the blow to the head during a third-and-goal play midway through the third quarter of Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.
Taking a snap and rolling to his right, Griffin tried in vain to find an open receiver in the end zone. The quarterback eventually tucked the ball and tried to cut toward the end zone. But before he could get there, Weatherspoon tackled Griffin hard, delivering a blow to the left side of Griffin’s head.
“I was running, made the one guy miss, then saw [Weatherspoon] there at the end,” Griffin recalled. “I tried to get down, but there was no way I could get out of bounds at that point. In the future — you know hindsight’s 20-20 — I would’ve thrown it away or gotten out of bounds.”
Griffin lay face down at the 5-yard line for a few moments before he was helped up and walked gingerly off the field. When checked by Redskins’ medical personnel in an observation area behind the Redskins’ bench, Griffin didn’t know the game score or the quarter. He was taken to the locker room, where an independent neurosurgeon administered a concussion test.
Griffin said his parents came to the locker room to check on him shortly after that, and his mother called at 8 a.m. the following morning, but he assured her he was fine. It was the first concussion of his Griffin’s NFL career, but his second in the past 12 months.
The first came in late November while he was still playing for Baylor. On a similar play, Griffin suffered a blow to the head as he tried to slide at the end of a run. He came out of the game briefly, assured coaches he was fine, returned to the game and scored on a quarterback keeper. But once he was back on the sideline, Griffin began experiencing memory loss. He was monitored the following week before he was cleared to play the next game.
Griffin said Wednesday that he hasn’t experienced any symptoms since “coming to” about 15 minutes after the hit Sunday — as he did at Baylor. He went through tests on both Monday and Tuesday, and after experiencing no dizziness, headaches or nausea, was cleared to practice Wednesday, at the Redskins’ first session of the week. Griffin said he “felt sharp” as he went through practice and took the majority of the first team snaps.
Shanahan said the team will continue to prepare backups Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman in case Griffin has a setback. “Something could happen tomorrow or the next day and you have to be able to go, just like you do in the game,” the coach said.
Griffin’s testing will continue throughout the week, and the Redskins may not announce his clearance until the weekend — possibly as late as Sunday morning. Teammates said they fully expect Griffin to play, however, and the Vikings are preparing as if he will.
Joe Webb, a mobile backup quarterback, is playing the role of Griffin against Minnesota’s defense in practices this week. Webb relieved an injured Christian Ponder against Washington last December, completing four of five passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 34 yards and a touchdown in a 33-26 victory.