RICHMOND — Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan have a deal. If Griffin works back slowly from right knee ligament surgery as Shanahan demands, then he’ll play in the Washington Redskins’ regular season opener Sept. 9.
Griffin’s fierce competitive drive is testing his ability to hold up his end of the bargain this summer. “Operation Patience,” as he calls it, means stomaching a plan he detests in order to achieve his rehabilitation goal — to start on “Monday Night Football” against the Philadelphia Eagles in less than four weeks.
“I don’t like it, but there’s some part of it that I do understand,” Griffin said Monday at his weekly news conference. “I don’t understand all of it, but at the end of the day, he gave me his word.
“We talked privately. I know the plan. I’m not telling the whole plan because he doesn’t want the whole plan known. I understand that as well. But I don’t understand the whole plan at all, and I can’t lie about that. But when you give your word to somebody, that’s all you have. So I’m just banking that they’re going to stay true to their word. I’m staying true to mine — I’m doing everything they asked me to do without any gripes.”
The different stages of Shanahan’s plan amount to incremental rewards for Griffin. The next milestone is expected Wednesday.
Griffin “will take a couple reps on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with each team period,” Shanahan said. It’s not clear whether Griffin will face the scout team or a live defense. But the Redskins are treating those three days as though they were occurring during the regular season, when the first-team offense usually works against the scout team.
The change was planned for Tuesday, but Saturday’s cancellation of practice due to inclement weather delayed that.
Griffin downplayed the progress, having declared himself ready for this step last week.
“I just think it’s time to get out there with my teammates,” he said Monday. “I’ve proven I can protect myself and [I’m] dang near close to 100 percent. I feel good, and I’m glad that Coach feels the same way.”
There’s a greater disagreement between quarterback and coach, though. Griffin is willing to live with that if it gets him on the field against Philadelphia.
“My reintegration to the team has been fixed without any aspect of how I’m doing personally with my knee, with my surgery, with my rehab,” Griffin said. “It’s predetermined, and that’s the one thing I don’t understand.
“But like Coach said, and he’s 100 percent right: I don’t have to understand it, I don’t have to like it. But at the end of the day, if he plays me Week 1 and I’m ready to go, then I’ll give him a salute and I’ll go play my butt off for him.”
About three hours after his news conference — with the Shanahan dynamic once again a topic of discussion in the wake of Griffin’s comments — the quarterback took to Twitter to make sure his point was clear:
“There is no friction. There is an understanding between coach and player. That is all. Don’t have to like everything”
Shanahan also seems to have agreed to disagree with Griffin on the matter.
“That’s my job, not necessarily to do what he likes, but to do what’s the best thing for him and this organization,” Shanahan said. “My job is to get him ready for the first game and that’s what we’re hoping we can do.”
Griffin will not play in the preseason, Shanahan reiterated, but the quarterback remains on course to start Week 1. He completed 15 of 17 passes during 7-on-7 drills Monday. One incompletion occurred on an intermediate throw that had to be low because of how cornerback DeAngelo Hall covered receiver Dezmon Briscoe from behind. The other was a short throw out in front of receiver Aldrick Robinson.
Afterward, Shanahan lauded Griffin’s desire to play, saying the great players he has been around share such intensity.
“If there is no setback, he’ll be ready,” Shanahan said. “And he’s going to have to trust me there.”