RICHMOND — There were no olive branches here Wednesday. No doves flew over the Redskins’ new $10 million training center. No trumpets sounded as the Redskins took physicals and ran their conditioning tests prior to the start of training camp practices Thursday.
There was no need. The true signals of peace came straight from Robert Griffin III’s mouth.
Given how Griffin insisted on playing through injuries last season and how he had to be restrained during his right knee rehabilitation over the past seven months, it would not have been surprising if he had chafed at coach Mike Shanahan’s decision this week to ease him into full team drills during training camp.
“If they want me to be patient right now and ramp it up later, then I’m willing to do that,” Griffin said. “They know that I’m going to be — I wouldn’t say compliant, but I’m going to follow those rules, follow those guidelines, do as much as I can within that. And when it’s time to go full-go, then I’ll be ready to go.”
Those words are as important to the Redskins’ hopes this season as any glowing evaluation of his right knee ligaments. Even more encouraging: Griffin knows that.
“Me and Mike Shanahan’s relationship is paramount to this team being successful,” he said.
That’s some fine self-awareness from a quarterback who wasn’t thrilled by how coaches used him last season. He had seven months to stew over that displeasure during the lonely, grueling hours of knee rehabilitation.
When Griffin in May advanced the target for his return from the Sept. 9 regular-season opener to the July 25 start of training camp, he increased the pressure on Shanahan to allow the face of the franchise back into action, perhaps at the risk of re-injury.
Griffin earned Monday’s medical clearance by remaining steadfast in his rehabilitation. He astounded doctors and trainers with his progress and work ethic. But there is a middle ground at this point in his recovery, and Griffin and Shanahan, to their credit, found it.
He’ll participate in position drills with running backs and receivers, 7-on-7 passing drills and the team’s morning walkthrough.
He will not, however, participate in 11-on-11 team drills until later in camp. He also does not expect to play in preseason games.
Griffin’s on-field offseason development, then, will be contained to the short period during camp in which he participates in team drills. He can accept that because he has a year of playing experience — a year in which he didn’t play too badly.
“I don’t think the preseason actually matters that much when it comes to that,” Griffin said. “I think you get that timing, those reps, in practice, and that’s what I’m going to get later in the preseason, so I’ll look forward to that.”
Sitting out preseason games, though, will leave an element of his psychological recovery until the regular season. He won’t know for sure how his knee will respond to eluding tacklers and getting hit at game speed.
“Getting to 100 percent is getting back out there on the field, getting out there with the guys, making football-like movements, because you can’t mimic those,” he said. “You can’t mimic instincts, when a guy’s pass-rushing you. You can’t really mimic what you’re going to do.”
But that’s the trade-off for being smart about these final days of his recovery. As soon as Griffin crumpled to the mangled FedEx Field turf in January, this never was going to be a perfect situation. That uncertainty is part of the downside.
Griffin’s willingness to accept that burden entering the regular season is a promising sign for these Redskins. He is putting his long-term health, which coincides with the team’s best interest, ahead of any short-term anxiety he might have. It’s a sacrifice that exudes leadership.
By doing so, he’s extending a hand to Shanahan.
“I am an overachiever,” Griffin said, “but I want to make this decision as easy for everybody as possible.”
Easy decisions — what a concept. Harmony is a critical step toward victory, so training camp is off to a productive start.