ASHBURN – Robert Griffin III had met with an independent neurologist on Friday to evaluate his concussion status, but the Washington Redskins’ quarterback has yet to receive clearance to play.
Coach Jay Gruden said on Sunday that Griffin still has to meet with a neurologist one more time this week before he passes the concussion protocol.
Gruden said that when Griffin does return, he will evaluate who the backup will be behind starter Kirk Cousins. NFL Network reported on Saturday that Griffin will remain on the team and serve as the backup, but that Colt McCoy would carry that duty in Week 1 until Griffin is cleared.
As the team approached Saturday’s 4 p.m. deadline to finalize the 53-man roster, the uncertainty of Griffin’s status posed an interesting series of questions.
Would the Redskins cut him as they trimmed the 53-man roster? Would it be worth it for the team to keep him as a backup, despite the fact that they would be on the hook for over $16 million in 2016 if he got injured and did not pass his exit physical? And most importantly, would it create a distraction keeping Griffin if he wasn’t starting?
“The only distractions, like I said, are made out here,” Gruden said Sunday, alluding to the media. “We don’t feel like he’s a distraction at all. We feel like he’s a quarterback that’s young and talented and done some great things.
“You can never have too many quarterbacks in your building. It’s very important. We learned that the hard way last year. You never want to use three, but it’s a violent game and quarterbacks are at risk back there, so it’s important to have three good quarterbacks. When you have three, you want to hold onto them.”
Gruden also dismissed the notion of any trade rumors involving Griffin.
“I haven’t heard anything of that sort. All I know is we made decisions on our 53-man roster. He’s one of our 53. That’s all we’re going by now. We’re going to get all our guys ready to play.”
Last Monday, Gruden announced that Cousins will be the starter for the regular season. Cousins was the team’s most efficient quarterback in the preseason, completing 40 of 53 passes for 435 yards, including two touchdowns and an interception.
The confusion surrounding Griffin’s status began after Week 2 of the preseason when he sustained a concussion against the Lions. Griffin was initially cleared for the Week 3 game against the Ravens — the game in which starters get the most reps as a final rehearsal ahead of the regular season.
Soon after, independent neurologist Robert N. Kurtzke ruled that Griffin was in fact not ready for game action, forcing the Redskins to start Cousins against Baltimore.
Cousins was 20-for-27 with 190 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the first half before McCoy took over, as the Redskins took a 31-13 victory.
It appeared McCoy was going to serve as Cousins’ backup after a strong preseason showing. With Griffin unavailable, McCoy played all of Thursday’s final preseason game against Jacksonville, completing 22 of 33 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown.
Gruden gave McCoy strong reviews ahead of the final preseason game, noting that the six-year veteran didn’t have to do anything to prove himself to the Redskins’ staff.
“He’s done everything we have asked him to do,” Gruden said before Thursday’s preseason game. “He’s a tough, competitive guy and I think he’s going to go out and compete like he always does. I just know he’s a great competitor and we’re happy to have him on our team.”
Yet despite the strong play of McCoy, it should come as no surprise that Griffin is expected to serve as Cousins’ backup once he clears the concussion protocol.
This season, Griffin is guaranteed more than $3 million, a hefty price tag for a third-string quarterback.