Robert Griffin III planted his right leg in the turf at Redskins Park on Wednesday morning, stressing the NFL’s most scrutinized knee ligament. In rhythm, he whipped a short pass at the usual velocity.
His mildly sprained right knee felt good enough that he waved to the group of reporters watching his every move.
“Just letting you guys know I’m OK,” Griffin said after practice.
The Washington Redskins were relieved to see it. Their franchise quarterback tested his injured lateral collateral ligament only three days after absorbing a nasty hit that prompted widespread fears of a more serious injury. Griffin’s progress increased optimism that he will play Sunday in a critical game against the Cleveland Browns.
“He was limited,” coach Mike Shanahan said, “but I was impressed with how he worked and what he did.”
Griffin wore a helmet, cleats and a jersey to practice like the rest of his teammates. Long black pants concealed a black brace on his right knee.
He practiced dropping back, planting and throwing short passes. He even threw one pass from behind his back.
“Planting and throwing is not a problem,” he said.
Griffin, during the brief period of practice open to media, ran in a straight line at a moderate pace and shuffled his feet laterally in separate portions of the team’s stretching session. He moved smoothly at times and gingerly at others.
It was an important step in his quest to play Sunday in a game the Redskins basically have to win in order for postseason qualification to remain a realistic outcome. Rookie Kirk Cousins is expected to start if Griffin cannot.
Despite the positive signs on Wednesday, Griffin’s status for Cleveland won’t be determined until he and team doctors see how the knee responds to increased physical activity.
“I did enough to give myself the confidence to push it tomorrow and then on Friday,” Griffin said.
That’s the latest indication his knee is quickly recovering. Griffin on Sunday night strongly doubted his availability for the Browns game. But on Monday and then on Tuesday, he felt progressively better.
How he feels getting out of bed and walking up stairs helps him measure his readiness to test the knee on the field.
“I can walk up and down steps normally,” he said. “I can walk around normally. I can run in place. I can run. I can do all those things, so I’m the happiest guy in the world right now.”