- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 13, 2012

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III practiced Thursday and continued to progress toward playing through a mildly sprained right knee against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

“It’s better,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “You can see that he’s more comfortable. He was improved over yesterday.”

Griffin was limited in practice for the second straight day. The Redskins have not determined his status for Sunday’s game.

Griffin moved well during the brief period of practice open to media. He planted on his injured right leg and threw a variety of passes, as he did Wednesday. He also simulated stretch handoffs during quarterback drills. He favored his sprained knee at times.

Shanahan said Griffin’s status will be determined “probably on game day.”

Griffin and the Redskins were eager to see how his knee responded to the physical stress applied during Wednesday’s practice.

He was not made available to reporters Thursday. However, on Wednesday he was optimistic about his chances of playing: “I feel really good about it. It just depends on if I continue to progress the way I am.”

Planning is a challenge

Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan helped game plan for Cleveland this week without knowing who will quarterback the Redskins. The team is waiting to see how much Griffin progresses before determining whether he or fellow rookie Kirk Cousins will start.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge because I can’t lock in as much as I usually do to exactly how the order and what I’m trying to attack, so I’ve got to be a little bit more open-minded because there’s a few different directions you could go,” Shanahan said. “But I kind of put myself in check when I start to get a little frustrated with it because I know it’s probably a little more frustrating for them than it is for me.”

Shanahan is relieved the Redskins are so deep into the season.

“At this point in the year with our players, there’s not a lot of new learning,” he said. “You run your concepts that you’ve been doing. Guys are ready to adjust. It’s not that big of a deal. It depends what you see on game day. I’m ready to adjust to what schemes they’re doing.”

Shanahan echoed coach Mike Shanahan’s assessment that Griffin appeared healthier in practice Thursday than Wednesday.

Still, Kyle has concerns that go beyond how fluidly Griffin moves.

“I think Robert is going to be able to show us he can move well,” Kyle said. “It’s more: Is his knee stable enough? And can he protect himself in there? And is there a risk of a further injury?”

Kyle expressed optimism about Griffin’s availability, even though Griffin was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday.

“He hasn’t been with us much, but what he’s doing out there, he definitely looks healthier than he did after Sunday,” Kyle said. “After Sunday, we were really worried about it. He has surprised us each day. Hopefully, it will be good enough on Sunday.”

Banks eager for another shot

Brandon Banks remains confident he’s capable of explosive kickoff and punt returns, but he’s unsure when or if he’ll get another opportunity after coach Mike Shanahan demoted him as the Redskins‘ punt and kickoff returner last week.

“I’m good, man,” said Banks, who was inactive for the game. “I just look at as everything happens for a reason. Everybody gets different opportunities. Whatever happens, happens. I can’t control nothing. I’ll just wait for my opportunity. Hopefully, I can get better and get healthier, and I can go back to performing the way I want to.”

Niles Paul replaced Banks returning kickoffs. Paul is expected to return kicks Sunday against Cleveland despite losing a fumble in the second half against Baltimore.

Banks, meanwhile, can only wait for another chance.

“Same mindset I always have,” he said. “Whenever my number is called, just try to go do the best you can.”

Richard Crawford returned three punts against Baltimore for 20, 16 and 64 yards. Shanahan praised him for how he directly and urgently got upfield and gained yardage after catching the ball.

Crawford’s sample size is much smaller than Banks’ 26 punt returns this season, but Banks’ 6.8-yard average ranks 24th in the NFL among players with at least 17 returns.

Banks, a three-year veteran, downplayed the impact of his right hip injury, but he still expects to have surgery after the season.

Linebacker London Fletcher (left ankle) returned to practice and was limited. Left tackle Trent Williams (left thigh) also was limited.



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