Robert Griffin III will start the Washington Redskins' season-opener on Sept. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles, coach Mike Shanahan said Monday afternoon.
Thus ends a months-long drama about whether the 23-year-old quarterback would be ready for Week 1 after undergoing right knee surgery on Jan. 9 to repair torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments.
But while Griffin was finally cleared by his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, after Thursday's preseason finale at Tampa Bay, Shanahan wasn't quite ready to make it official that night. He wanted to take the weekend to speak with Griffin. After a Sunday conference call among Griffin, Andrews, Shanahan, general manager Bruce Allen and team trainer Larry Hess, the go-ahead was given.
"We had a good conversation with Dr. Andrews and went over a couple of his concerns," Shanahan said. "We talked about different things he talked to me [about] at Tampa. I feel very good where Robert's at and he'll be our starter on Monday night unless there's some crazy setback that we don't anticipate."
In a text message to The Washington Times on Friday, Andrews disputed an ESPN report that his "concerns" were really about how the team planned to use Griffin. Shanahan insisted again on Monday that Andrews did have concerns, but wouldn't go into detail about what those were.
"Well, first of all [Andrews] said he never said that," Shanahan said, referencing the ESPN report by anchor Trey Wingo. "And he surely never said that to me."
As far as a doctor clearing a player, but then telling the coaching staff how to use him:
"I don't think a doctor would ever say anything like that if you cleared somebody to play," Shanahan said. "I'm not sure a doctor would ever say anything that has to do with a strategy of football."
Whatever the case, Shanahan said, Griffin "is ready to go, full speed ahead" and that health is no longer a factor, barring any issues with the knee at practice this week. That's been the plan all along.
"[Griffin has] gotten a lot of great reps in practice. He'll be ready to play Monday night," Shanahan said. "There hasn't been any setbacks, there's been no swelling. There's, to my knowledge, no soreness that he's had in that knee area. So I feel very good where he's at. Hopefully we keep our fingers crossed and everything goes great."
Griffin was not made available to reporters after Monday's 1:45 p.m. practice at Redskins Park. He will speak Wednesday afternoon. The quarterback practiced without restriction the previous three weeks, including drills against Washington's No. 1 defense at full speed. He's also received increased repetitions during practices.
"With how good [Griffin] looked when I showed back up here in April, my mindset was that obviously I need to be ready, but also I expected him to be ready," Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "Because he's looked good from the moment I saw him in April and I don't believe there've been any setbacks. He just keeps getting stronger and stronger. He's worked his tail off."
So all signs pointed to Griffin's return anyway from his Jan. 6 injury during the playoff loss to Seattle at FedEx Field. He underwent surgery on July 9. Now, exactly eight months after surgery, the Redskins will have their quarterback back.
"[Griffin's] surgery went well and you're always hoping his rehab went well," Shanahan said. "And that went as good as it could possibly have gone. But you never know when you start practicing. Sometimes there's swelling, sometimes there's setbacks. There hasn't been any setbacks since we started. That's a great sign."
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