- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2013



You are the man. Let’s be clear on that right from the start.

You have come in and taken over the Washington area. We might as well call ourselves RG3ville. Talent, personality, charisma, charm, you’ve got it all. You’ve made the Redskins relevant again and that’s huge.

No offense to Alex Ovechkin, Bryce Harper, John Wall, Chris Pontius and the area’s other stars. The brightest light on the Redskins outshines all the others combined, times 100. And that’s you. How bright are you? You’ve changed the Redskins’ pecking order in terms of importance. It’s you, then coach Mike Shanahan.

That said, please do us an itty-bitty favor: Hush.

Your candor is refreshing. It’s one of so many things that make you such a star. You say what’s on your mind and you do so diplomatically. You aren’t a clod about it. Us media types dig the openness and it runs counter to our training to say stop.

Please don’t lose that trait. Just cool it for the rest of this preseason.

Though you outshine him in terms of star power, you don’t outrank Shanahan. You’ll practice when Shanahan says you’ll practice. You’ll play when Shanahan says you’ll play. You don’t have to like it. You shouldn’t. You are a competitor. You want to practice, you want to play.

And you will. Just not yet. Deal with it, using your megawatt smile and class. Keep your aggravation to yourself and make your comments the type that can generally be interpreted as you saying, “Yes, sir.”

Your team could be on the verge of something special and it needs you to get there. A healthy you and, yes, a happy you. Comments, no matter how well couched, hint at a bit of discord that may not really be there. They do make one wonder.

They also may not sit terribly well with your teammates for a simple reason — how many of them could get away with saying the same things, no matter how well stated? Shanahan pretty much has to take it coming from you. What’s he going to do, bench you when it counts if you are healthy? Ha ha ha and no.

There might not be a more important knee in the NFL right now, or a knee that is going to be scrutinized more than your right knee. You’re coming off a “revision” of your ACL reconstruction, which is a fancy way of saying your second such surgery. It’s not an easy injury, yet your rehab has gone well and you may pull an Adrian Peterson-type return in 2013.

All signs point to you taking the first snap of the season that actually counts and, the entire area hopes, every other snap that means something.

So deal with the preseason downtime.

Shanahan has relived that ugly early January afternoon, when the Redskins’ season ended with a loss to Seattle at home in the opening round of the playoffs. The lasting image of that game isn’t the score. It’s you, crumbled on the ground near your own end zone, clearly in a lot of pain and injured to the point of no return.

What mistakes were made? Why were you out there? Were you too brazen in your insistence in staying in the game? Was Shanahan hesitant to pull you in light of that insistence? Great questions then, irrelevant now.

What matters now is that it not happen again. How many such injuries can one knee take? A third likely won’t lead to the long career the Redskins need out of you. If Shanahan is being overly cautious this preseason in practice and in meaningless games, so what? That’s a good thing. Err on the side of caution, please.

That knee is way too important.

Every Redskins fan alive would take this trade: You sit out 2013 and in return are guaranteed an injury-free future. Sadly, that’s not the way it works. Just as every race-car driver knows the risks every time they start their engine, every NFL player knows a career can be over in one snap in practice or in a game.

The key is to manage that risk, to not take chances that don’t need to be taken.

The chance does not need to be taken with your knee now. Under any circumstances. So flash that huge smile, say thanks, Coach, for looking out for me even though I want to be out there, and we’ll see you Sept. 9.

When it counts.

• Mike Harris can be reached at mharris@washingtontimes.com.

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