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Shanahan has relived that ugly early January afternoon, when the Redskins’ season ended with a loss to Seattle at home in the opening round of the playoffs. The lasting image of that game isn’t the score. It’s you, crumbled on the ground near your own end zone, clearly in a lot of pain and injured to the point of no return.

What mistakes were made? Why were you out there? Were you too brazen in your insistence in staying in the game? Was Shanahan hesitant to pull you in light of that insistence? Great questions then, irrelevant now.

What matters now is that it not happen again. How many such injuries can one knee take? A third likely won’t lead to the long career the Redskins need out of you. If Shanahan is being overly cautious this preseason in practice and in meaningless games, so what? That’s a good thing. Err on the side of caution, please.

That knee is way too important.

Every Redskins fan alive would take this trade: You sit out 2013 and in return are guaranteed an injury-free future. Sadly, that’s not the way it works. Just as every race-car driver knows the risks every time they start their engine, every NFL player knows a career can be over in one snap in practice or in a game.

The key is to manage that risk, to not take chances that don’t need to be taken.

The chance does not need to be taken with your knee now. Under any circumstances. So flash that huge smile, say thanks, Coach, for looking out for me even though I want to be out there, and we’ll see you Sept. 9.

When it counts.