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The coach said at the time he was told by orthopedist James Andrews on the Redskins sideline that Griffin was cleared to return to the game, but Andrews told USA Today over the weekend that he didn’t get a chance to examine the knee during the one play Griffin sat out after the initial injury.

Shanahan explained the discrepancy by saying Andrews gave the OK for Griffin to return just by watching the quarterback run without doing an examination. Either way, the various versions of what happened cast more doubt on the protocol the Redskins use to determine whether someone is fit to keep playing.

The play-hurt dilemma is a factor every weekend in the NFL. Redskins left guard Kory Lichtensteiger had to leave Sunday’s game in the first quarter because he could no longer play on a sprained left ankle that kept him out of practice all week.

“I went out there,” Lichtensteiger said. “But, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have done it.”

Griffin’s injury and the playoff loss put a damper on the end of one of the best Redskins seasons in two decades. Washington rallied from a 3-6 start to win the NFC East after four straight last-place finishes. Assuming Griffin’s knee will again be fully healthy, the future looks brighter than at any time since the Super Bowl era under coach Joe Gibbs in the 1980s and early 1990s.

“I think people have really learned around here _ if you’re down by seven, people aren’t packing it in,” said safety Reed Doughty, wrapping up his seventh season in Washington. “People aren’t getting that `Oh, the way things used to be’ kind of feeling.”

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