WASHINGTON — Robert Griffin III has passed a major test toward his goal of playing in Week 1, getting the go-ahead from the team doctors days before the Washington Redskins open training camp.
“Doctors cleared me to practice. Coach is going to ease me in,” Griffin announced Monday on Twitter.
The two sentences represent hurdles past and future. Even though Griffin says he has the medical OK, it is now up to coach Mike Shanahan to determine how often and how vigorously Griffin practices when the Redskins open camp Thursday in Richmond, Va.
The Redskins had no comment on Griffin’s tweet. However, a person familiar with the situation said the Redskins have cleared Griffin to practice. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club has not made an announcement.
Still, it seems more likely than ever that Griffin will be under center when the Redskins open the regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9, just eight months after he had reconstructive surgery on his right knee.
“It’s great news,” right guard Chris Chester said. “I’m really excited about it. It’s a great chance to continue from where we left off last year.”
Griffin’s injury and subsequent rehabilitation overwhelmed the Redskins offseason. He led the club to its first division title in 13 years in 2012 and was chosen the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year, and his unique talents are needed if the team is to sustain that momentum.
Griffin injured the knee multiple times last season. He missed one game after spraining the lateral collateral ligament, then reinjured the knee at least twice more in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in January. He had surgery a few days later to repair the ACL and LCL.
Questions as to whether Griffin should have been removed from the game sooner have led Shanahan to consider a more cautious approach. Shanahan said in April that, for the coming season, “one thing we’re going to make sure of is that Robert never plays if he’s not 100 percent.”
Nevertheless, Griffin has proven to be a remarkable and dedicated athlete, and his progress is also indicative of an evolving calendar of expectations when it comes to ACL injuries, which traditionally have required a year or more of rehab. Griffin’s timeframe is similar to that of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who led the league in rushing last season after tearing an ACL the previous December.
The Redskins have said all along that Griffin was ahead of schedule. He demonstrated what he called “explosive sprinting” at last month’s minicamp and said he already had a rehab plan for his honeymoon. He married his longtime fiancee earlier this month.
“I think we knew he was going to play a good portion of the season anyway, from the way I’ve heard things were going,” Chester said. “But if we can have him the whole season, it would be better.”