ASHBURN, Va. — So much for those last-minute “concerns.” RG3 is starting Week 1.
Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan finally confirmed Monday what has appeared inevitable since the start of training camp: Robert Griffin III will be under center for the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I feel very good where Robert’s at,” Shanahan said. “And he’ll be our starter on Monday night unless there’s some crazy setback that we don’t anticipate.”
As is fitting with all things Griffin these days, Shanahan couldn’t make the proclamation without leaving a few loose ends of intrigue. The coach refused to disclose the “concerns” that caused him to delay the announcement for several days after the quarterback was medically cleared by Dr. James Andrews.
Andrews gave Griffin the go-ahead Thursday after examining the quarterback’s surgically repaired right knee in Florida, where the Redskins were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a preseason game. But Shanahan said at the time that Andrews also had “concerns” that needed to be addressed. Andrews contradicted the coach the next day in a series of text messages, saying he had “no concerns.”
Nevertheless, Shanahan said Andrews voiced those concerns Sunday in a conference call with Griffin, general manager Bruce Allen and team athletic trainer Larry Hess. The call, the coach, was aimed at “making sure we’re all on the same page.”
The conclusion? Shanahan said Griffin is “ready to go — full-speed ahead.”
Asked what the concerns are, Shanahan said he would leave it to Griffin to disclose them. Griffin is scheduled to address reporters Wednesday.
Asked to explain why Dr. Andrews said Friday there were no concerns, Shanahan said: “That’s not what he shared with Robert. That’s not what he shared with me.”
Asked why a doctor would clear a player if the doctor had concerns, Shanahan said: “You have to know what his concerns are. I understand that, but I don’t share those conversations, so we’ll have to go from there. You’ll have to trust us that the doctor feels good about it, regardless of what those concerns were.”
Asked if the concerns had to do with how Griffin is used on the field, Shanahan said: “I don’t think a doctor would ever say anything like that if he cleared somebody to play. I’m not sure a doctor would ever say anything that has to do with the strategy of football.”
Shanahan did indicate that the team has learned from last season, when Griffin missed all or part of four games due to various injuries. The general perception is that the read-option offense makes Griffin more vulnerable to injury, even though his injuries came on drop-back passes, usually when trying to scramble.
“You’re always trying to take a look at what’s in the best interest of your football team, obviously the health of your football team as well,” Shanahan said. “But if we didn’t feel like Robert was full-go, and he was ready to play and do all the things that you ask a guy to do, he would not be playing in this game.
“We believe he can do everything that a quarterback is asked to do. And if that’s sprinting out, if it’s running the option, if it’s dropping back, we think he can do all those things because he’s proved it to us in practice and there hasn’t been a setback.”
The bottom line is that Griffin will start, making a remarkably expedited return for last year’s NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. It’s been only eight months since Andrews repaired two ligaments in Griffin’s knee a few days after the Redskins’ playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in January.
Rehabbing throughout the offseason with an “all in for Week 1” mantra, Griffin didn’t miss a day of training camp, His practice snaps were limited and he wasn’t allowed to play in a preseason game. He was frustrated about not being allowed to do more, but Shanahan maintained it was all done with an eye on the regular season.
“With how good he looked when I showed back up here in April, my mindset was obviously I need to be ready, but I also expected him to be ready because he’s looked good from the moment I saw him,” backup Kirk Cousins said. “He just keeps getting stronger and stronger, and, as you can see, he’s worked his tail off.”
Teammates said Griffin has moved especially well in practice the last week or so.
“He looked great,” linebacker Brian Orakpo said. “Robert is back. He’s back to being himself.”
Notes: S Brandon Meriweather, the other starter recovering from reconstructive knee surgery, was sore Monday and did not practice. ... NT Barry Cofield said he restructured his contract in the last few days to help the team get under the salary cap. ... As expected, fourth-string QB Pat White will spend the week impersonating Philadelphia QB Michael Vick in practice. ... Griffin and LT Trent Williams were voted offensive captains for the season. LB London Fletcher and Cofield were chosen the defensive captains. The special teams captain, which can change game by game during the first half of the season, will be S Reed Doughty for the opener.
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