The Washington Redskins‘ 2013 offseason could have been a relatively tranquil period by the franchise’s standards. They seemed positioned to build on their NFC East division championship without the drama or tumult that has tainted past years.
Instead, their offseason began Monday with maximum anxiety regarding the status of quarterback Robert Griffin III’s right knee.
Because the results of an MRI exam Sunday night were inconclusive, possibly because of previous ligament tears, Griffin is scheduled to visit renowned orthopedist James Andrews on Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla., to undergo more tests.
The Redskins fear Griffin’s ACL was damaged when his knee bent gruesomely on a fourth-quarter play in their playoff loss to Seattle on Sunday. A complete tear would jeopardize his availability for the start of the 2013 regular season.
But because Griffin tore the ACL in 2009, and because he played the final three games of this season through a mildly sprained lateral collateral ligament, Andrews will evaluate him more extensively to clarify the results of the MRI exam. A diagnosis is expected Tuesday, according to a source who requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the testing process.
“A lot of times when you look at an MRI, my understanding, when you have ACL injury and LCL injury, you’ve had former injuries, they want to take another look and have a physical exam with him to make sure they’re not looking at old injuries on the MRI,” coach Mike Shanahan said.
Griffin did not speak to reporters Monday. During a two-hour open-locker-room media session in the morning, he was not among the dozens of players who cycled through to clean out their lockers and take exit physicals. He did attend the mandatory team meeting at noon and was spotted wearing a large brace.
Despite wearing a brace against Seattle, he aggravated the knee when he fell awkwardly on his leg while passing on the Redskins‘ second drive. He obviously was hobbled after that.
Shanahan said he did not speak to team doctors between when Griffin aggravated his knee and when he re-entered the game for Washington’s next possession. But he said he spoke to team doctors three or four times during the game.
National and local media outlets Monday scrutinized that choice. Detractors cited how gimpy Griffin was on a 9-yard designed run in the fourth quarter and some of his off-target passes, including an underthrown deep ball in the second quarter that was intercepted.
“I thought we made the right decisions,” Shanahan said. “You don’t make the decisions by yourself. You get a lot of opinions during the game, especially with a guy like Robert. Not only talking to him but talking to the doctors, and then you go with what you think is right.”
Griffin on Twitter defended his insistence to remain in the game.
“Many may question, criticize & think they have all the right answers,” he wrote. “But few have been in the line of fire in battle.”
Critics also were armed with the ugly sequence that prematurely ended Griffin’s season. With 6:19 remaining, his knee buckled when he leaned down to pick up an errant shotgun snap.
If Griffin’s ACL is only partially torn, there’s a chance he could avoid surgery. If it is completely torn, he would need ligament reconstruction surgery.
After he tore his ACL in 2009 during his sophomore season at Baylor, he had a patellar tendon graft to reconstruct the ligament, he said last month.
ACL reconstruction surgery requires eight to 12 months of rehabilitation. The 2013 season begins in eight months.
That scenario would sideline Griffin for the Redskins‘ offseason program. Shanahan cited Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who tore his ACL on Christmas Eve 2011 and rushed for more than 2,000 yards this season, as an example of a player succeeding eight months after an ACL tear
“I thought Adrian Peterson did pretty good last year for not being part of the offseason program,” Shanahan said. “But the perfect scenario is always being there, especially for a quarterback.”
Third-string quarterback Rex Grossman believes Griffin’s participation in Washington’s offseason program, which begins April 15, isn’t imperative.
“Not very important,” said Grossman, who mentored Griffin during his rookie season. “He’s a Pro Bowl player as a rookie. He’s not going to need to just be a normal rookie where you have a lot of improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 and it’s crucial. That’s true, but it’s a little bit different when you’re already a Pro Bowler and an NFC East champion.
“He’s going to be fine. I don’t care how bad he’s hurt, he’s going to be awesome, 100 percent ready to go in August, and that’s all that matters.”
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