- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2013

NEW ORLEANS – Robert Griffin smiled for the cameras as he strode down the red carpet here Saturday evening on his way to claiming the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

He barely limped, if at all, in his first public appearance since undergoing surgery on Jan. 9 to revise the reconstruction of the ACL and repair the torn lateral collateral ligament in his right knee.

“It’s kind of like the coming out party,” he said.

Griffin’s appearance at the Mahalia Jackson Theater on the eve of the Super Bowl served two purposes – one looking backward and the other to the future.

He earned the hotly contested Offensive Rookie of the Year award for his record-setting play in a season that featured several dynamic first-year quarterbacks in the NFL, including Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck and Seattle’s Russell Wilson.

Griffin also debuted his surgically repaired stride. And in doing so, he expressed the utmost confidence he will be at full health in time to quarterback the Redskins in their 2013 regular-season opener.

“No doubt in my mind,” he said.

“Very impressive,” Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said moments later. “He’s an unbelievable young man. We’re just excited to have him. He’s making great strides, and it makes it look good for the Redskins.”

Griffin arrived in New Orleans on Friday night, having left Pensacola, Fla., for the first time since his surgery. Wearing a dark gray suit and a burgundy-and-gold-striped tie, he walked without crutches down the red carpet.

He moved so smoothly that a Redskins public relations official had him circle back to the start and walk the red carpet a second time with his fiancée so media could record it and show the world.

“It’s feeling good,” Griffin said. “I went through the toughest part already, so now it’s just about being smart, not pushing it too much. That’s what the doctors are there for, to keep me from doing too much.”

Griffin and his father said he is further ahead in his recovery than he was after the same amount of time following his ACL reconstruction surgery in 2009.

Griffin’s father, Robert Jr., suspects his son’s progress has been aided by the fact he did not lose much muscle mass in his right leg following the surgery. He said Robert III did not completely tear the right patellar tendon graft that served as his ACL. However, orthopedist James Andrews detected some instability at the top of the graft and believed it would serve Robert III best to completely revise the reconstruction using a patellar tendon graft from his left knee, Robert Jr. said.

“You’ve just got to make sure you don’t get complacent, and no matter how far ahead you get, you’ve still got to be smart about it,” Griffin said. “That’s what my dad said. He told me the other day: ‘If you feel something in your knee, just stop.’ You’ve got to be able to do that.”

Griffin suffered the severe knee injury in the Redskins’ 24-14 loss to Seattle on Jan. 6. It was his third game playing through a mildly sprained LCL. He aggravated his knee on the game’s second drive but stayed in the game until his knee gave out, gruesomely buckling in the fourth quarter.

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