- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2012

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III felt well and did not exhibit certain major symptoms from the concussion he suffered a day earlier, coach Mike Shanahan and several teammates said Monday afternoon.

Griffin’s status for Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings will not be determined until he completes a series of tests that began Monday.

“If he does experience any setbacks at all, the chances are he would not play,” Shanahan said.

Griffin’s progress in the 24 hours after his injury has fostered optimism. He spoke with Shanahan for about 15 minutes before the coach met with reporters at 3 p.m. for his weekly Monday news conference.

“He’s feeling good,” Shanahan said. “No dizziness, no headaches, no vomiting. He feels like he’s done well on the tests that he has taken thus far.”

Griffin was scheduled to meet later Monday with an independent neurologist. That is part of the NFL’s return-to-play concussion protocol, which also prohibits him from conducting media interviews until he is cleared.

If he passes Monday’s concussion tests while rested, he would undergo exertion tests Tuesday. He would do cardiovascular exercise, including running on the treadmill and agility drills, and then undergo another series of tests.

If Griffin remains without symptoms during and after the at-rest and exertion tests, he would be cleared to practice.

Griffin was injured in the third quarter Sunday when Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon hit him while he scrambled from the pocket toward the right sideline.

He staggered a bit when he rose from the turf after lying motionless for four seconds. He insisted to Shanahan he was OK, but Shanahan overruled him.

“I said, ‘You are not fine. I don’t think you are fine. Your eyes look a little glassy,’” Shanahan recalled.

Griffin knew the score of the game and what quarter it was when trainers asked him right after the hit, but he answered those questions incorrectly several minutes later inside a quiet trainer’s room behind the Redskins sideline.

Those incorrect answers triggered team doctors to begin the strict return-to-play protocol the league adopted in 2009.

“Once removed for the duration of a practice or game, the player should not be considered for return-to-football activities until he is fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion, has a normal neurological examination, normal neuropsychological testing, and has been cleared to return by both his team physician(s) and the independent neurological consultant,” the league’s statement reads.

Shanahan would not say whether rookie Kirk Cousins or veteran Rex Grossman would replace Griffin if the quarterback can’t play.

“We’re going to go through the process with Robert,” he said. “Hopefully there is no setback and he’s ready to go.”

Cousins threw a touchdown and two interceptions in finishing the loss to Atlanta. Griffin, by contrast, has only one interception in five games.

“We’ll see what happens,” Cousins said, “but obviously I hope he gets back quickly and is healthy.”

Teammates lamented losing their offensive spark plug. Griffin’s importance to the offense is unmistakable because of his throwing and dynamic running ability.

“We can’t be letting our quarterback take shots like that, regardless of it’s the sideline,” fullback Darrel Young said. “We’ve just got to put him in a better situation, whether it be us running routes, us blocking. We really can’t help him out there, but maybe run a better route or do something different.”

The hope inside Redskins Park is that Griffin at least will learn from this experience. Shanahan and other coaches have preached to him the importance of preserving his health by making smart decisions, such as sliding to avoid contact and throwing the ball away when it’s appropriate to do so instead of extending a play.

“When that quarterback gets that first hit like he received, they slide a little bit sooner in plays that count,” Shanahan said. “They kind of protect themselves a little bit more. After talking about it with Robert, if you slide a little bit quicker, you protect yourself. We tell him how much we need him and how valuable he is to our football team.”



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