RICHMOND — Robert Griffin III already is advancing toward his objective just five days into “Operation Patience.”
Sitting out team drills during training camp is testing Griffin’s ability to prioritize his long-term health over short-term competitiveness. But he increased his participation during Monday morning’s walk-through, he said — progress earned by continuing to be deliberate in his recovery.
“I don’t feel like I’m pushing it,” Griffin said. “I feel like I’m ready for that, but we’re being real cautious right now and taking it slow. That’s what Coach wants to do, so all I do is go out there and prove to my teammates, prove to the coaches, to the fans that I’m ready to go.”
The Washington Redskins’ star quarterback has dubbed the final stages of his right knee rehabilitation “Operation Patience,” having accepted the fact it’s in his best interest to reign in his ultracompetitiveness as he approaches a return to full participation in team activities.
Although Griffin said the “few reps” he got in Monday’s walk-through signaled a “bump up from last week,” coach Mike Shanahan said Griffin’s participation in Monday’s practice did not increase.
Griffin took part in the first three of the team’s 10 periods of practice, as he did during the first three practices. But he did some different drills Monday. During the afternoon session, he participated with the full offense in a hurry-up sequence in which no defense was on the field.
He also took approximately 10 snaps during 7-on-7 drills and did individual work on the side field while the Redskins practiced special teams. He performed footwork and agility drills, and he went through the script of team drill plays with running back Alfred Morris and receiver Santana Moss.
“He look real good,” receiver Joshua Morgan said. “He look like he getting through his progressions real fast. He got his footwork down pat.”
Perhaps the most auspicious indicator almost seven months into Griffin’s recovery is he doesn’t think about his knee while practicing, even though he expects to wear a brace on it all season.
“I just play football, and that’s a sign that you’re getting ready,” he said. “Consistently I forget my brace, like I did on the first day. … I feel great. It’s just about Coach wanting to be real cautious with me, and that’s understandable and I’m just taking it that way. I feel good in 7-on-7s.”
The on-field results have been mixed, though. In 7-on-7 drills Saturday, Griffin overthrew two “go” routes and a post. Observers debate how comfortably he appears to plant on his right leg at the top of his drops.
“That’s one thing we all pointed out when watching film — after the knee injury, it was a lot harder to plant off the back leg,” Griffin said. “As the games went on, it got a little bit better, a little bit better, until the Seattle game when it got re-hurt.
“That’s one thing that the coaches have been paying attention to. I’ve paid attention to it in rehab, and I feel like I’m past that. I feel like I can plant off my back leg just like I did before the injury.”
Shanahan will continue to put Griffin through three-, five- and seven-step drops in practice to gauge how he plants the leg and drives his throws. He’ll know Griffin is ready for team drills when that appears natural, smooth and strong.
That step — Mission: Accomplished — is still at least two weeks away. Griffin expects the team to re-evaluate the extent of his participation at the end of this week.
“I look forward to being back out there next week, and maybe not doing the whole practice but getting a few reps here and there,” Griffin said. “That’s kind of what they’ve told me. It kind of just depends on how things go. I think if I can show them after six straight days of practice that my knee is fine, they’ll be a lot more receptive to putting me out there.”