RGIII is NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

NEW ORLEANS — Robert Griffin III did not show a hint of a limp while walking up and down the red carpet before accepting The Associated Press 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award Saturday night.

Tough to tell the Washington Redskins quarterback had surgery to repair two ligaments in his right knee less than a month ago.

“It’s truly a blessing … to be able to stand, first and foremost,” Griffin said.

Speaking to the media for the first time since his Jan. 9 operation, the man known as RG3 said he’s aiming to return to action at the start of next season.

“The knee is good. … I’m pretty far ahead. I don’t want to scare anyone, so I’ll take it slow,” said Griffin, who wore a tie with the Redskins’ burgundy and gold colors. “My goal is Week 1.”

He received 29 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league, topping two other quarterbacks who also took their teams to the postseason: Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts got 11 votes, and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks got 10.

“All the competition for this award is extremely good,” Griffin said. “It seems like the league’s in good hands with the young quarterbacks.”

The AP NFL Offensive Rookie honor was never won by a quarterback from its inception in 1957 until Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers became the first QB to receive the award in 2004. But Griffin is the sixth quarterback in the last nine years to win it.

Wilson’s Seahawks beat Griffin’s Redskins in the second round of the playoffs, when Washington’s QB left in the fourth quarter after tearing up his knee.

The No. 2 overall draft pick last year after winning the Heisman Trophy at Baylor, Griffin led the Redskins to their first NFC title in 13 years with a thrill-a-minute combination of running and passing. He rushed for 815 yards, a record for a rookie QB, and threw for 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

Griffin wants to have a chat with Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who came back from his own major knee injury to gain more than 2,000 yards this season, earning awards Saturday for NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.

“I’m going to do my best to give him good information,” Peterson said. “Of course, everyone heals differently. We all have different mindsets. … People are like, ‘Wow, how did it happen?’ I had to work real hard.”

As it is, Griffin promised Saturday to come back new-and-improved.

“I think you’ll see different version of me,” he said. “You’ll see a better Robert Griffin.”

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