Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has fully recovered from his previously dislocated left ankle and has “a great chance to start” this week in Minnesota, coach Jay Gruden said Thursday afternoon.
Gruden said Griffin has been medically cleared by team doctors and received the majority of the first-team reps in practice Thursday morning. The Redskins are moving forward with Griffin as their starter against the Vikings, Gruden said, and only a physical setback or signs of mental unpreparedness in Friday’s practice would alter that plan.
“We have every intent of him starting,” Gruden said. “If everything goes well tomorrow, he should be the starter, yes. He should be the starter.”
The team did not permit Griffin to address the media Thursday.
The third-year quarterback first began participating in individual drills two weeks ago, then ramped up to team drills last week. He has been a full participant in each of the team’s two practices this week and took the majority of the starting reps for the first time Thursday.
After Griffin sustained his injury Sept. 14 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Gruden said he would likely be sidelined for 6-8 weeks. Should he start Sunday in Minnesota, Griffin’s return would fall directly in the middle of that timetable.
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The Redskins could hold Griffin out of Sunday’s game and allow him to rest during the following bye week, but Gruden doesn’t think that would provide much of an advantage.
“There’s no cons to playing him now if he’s healthy, which we think he is,” Gruden said. “The problem with the bye is everybody thinks you’ve got a bye, you’ve got all this extra time to work. The bye week, the players get like five days off. It’s not like we can come out here and have two-a-days and get him ready for the next week. If he’s ready, physically, then I think he should play. That’s what it comes down to. And physically, we think he’s ready.”
Gruden said Griffin and his previously-injured ankle have looked “great” in practice dating back to last week, when the former No. 2 overall pick filled the role of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on the scout team.
“He was running around like a banshee,” Gruden said. “He’s more healthy than most of the guys we have playing right now.”
Throughout the process, Gruden has said Griffin would need to sufficiently meet two requirements before starting. He would first need to be medically cleared by team doctors, and then prove to Gruden that he is mentally prepared to resume his starting role.
Now that Griffin is 100 percent healthy, his status will ultimately come down to how he grasps the offense and executes it in practice. Gruden said “quite a few” changes have been made to the offense since Griffin’s injury, including new plays, new protection adjustments and new route concepts.
“Watching it on film and looking at it on a chalkboard and talking through it in the meeting rooms is a little bit different than doing it live out there in practice,” Gruden said, noting that Griffin missed a few throws Thursday. “He’s going to have his bumpy times, but hopefully he’ll correct them and do better tomorrow and better Saturday and we’ll be ready to roll.”
When asked for a scenario in which Griffin does not start Sunday, Gruden pointed to a possible injury in Friday’s practice or a request from Griffin that he rest another week. “Which probably won’t happen,” Gruden said with a grin.
Ultimately, the decision will be in Gruden’s hands.
“It’ll be pretty much my call,” he said. “I’ll talk about it with the rest of the coaches and [general manager] Bruce [Allen] and we’ll go from there. But everybody’s on board. From a physical standpoint, everybody’s on board. He’s 100 percent.”
NOTES: Safety Ryan Clark (ankle/shoulder) and left tackle Trent Williams (knee) were limited in practice for a second consecutive day Thursday. … Barry Cofield, who is on the team’s reserve/injured list with a designation to return, hurt his foot during positional drills. “But he is close to coming back,” Gruden said. … Gruden said the Redskins are discussing whether or not to activate wide receiver Leonard Hankerson, who is on the physically unable to perform list, but no decision has been made. “The time is ticking on that one,” Gruden said.