As we count down to the NFL season, Sports Jerks will be bringing you 32 questions in 32 days. Each day, we’ll feature one of the most important questions for a different NFL team heading into the opening weekend of the league.
Today’s feature team and question?
The Washington Redskins – Will RGIII be ready for the opener?
After several losing seasons, the Washington Redskins turned things around in 2012. Behind Offensive Rookie of the Year quarterback Robert Griffin III, the franchise had its first winning season since 2007.
Griffin had one of the most successful rookie campaigns in the history of the Redskins. The former star out of Baylor and No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft last season threw for 3,200 yards in his first year. Griffin looked like anything but a rookie with 20 touchdowns to only five interceptions, while completing more than 65 percent of his passes. Those mind-boggling stats combined with 815 rushing yards made him one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last year. His 12 fumbles last season were far too many, but as a whole, Griffin was borderline unstoppable and a true dual-threat quarterback.
Griffin’s dynamic season ended with a whimper, however. Following a 10-6 season, Washington reached the postseason but lost 24-14 to the Seattle Seahawks in the first round. Even worse was that the Redskins’ prized quarterback suffered a devastating knee injury in the loss. Now, mere weeks from the season opener, Washington is hoping to have Griffin back under center for the first game.
The quarterback underwent ACL and LCL surgery. One problem is that this is the second time Griffin has had ACL reconstruction on the injured knee. However, all indications are that he will experience a full recovery and he should be able to return to a high level of play. ESPN’s Stephania Bell recently explained his injury and gives some good reasons why Griffin will be able to succeed after the surgery. Fans should be able to breathe easy after the devastating injury.
With that in mind, will Griffin be ready for the team’s first game?
There are plenty of people wondering if Griffin will be ready for the team’s opener, but for the record, he isn’t one of them. He has repeatedly said there’s no doubt he’ll be playing and if the decision were up to him, there’s little question that he’d be on the field. Also, while the medical staff hasn’t come out and declared when Griffin will play, they are astonished at his recovery rate and the quarterback is ahead of schedule.
Griffin also has support from the team’s general manager Bruce Allen. Allen didn’t say the quarterback was a guarantee to play in the opener, but he did say that’s the plan.
Then there’s also the particular game itself – if you haven’t seen the schedule yet, it’s a big one. The Redskins will take on NFC East rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, on Monday Night Football. It doesn’t get much bigger than that and you can bet that Griffin will be chomping at the bit to get onto the field.
One interesting factor in all of this is the relationship Griffin has had with the Redskins and head coach Mike Shanahan. The two have butted heads about when the quarterback will be able to play. None of that, though, is too significant. Griffin, like most star athletes, just wants to get out there and suit up. Shanahan, however, has multiple interests to protect. Griffin gives him the best chance personally to succeed and he wants to make sure he’s fully healthy for the long term. The coach has to ensure that the franchise’s investment is protected. He also must do what’s best for his team and not rush an injured player back if he’s not ready.
In practice, Griffin has recently been participating in 11-on-11 drills and is about as close to playing as he can get without actually seeing game action. He looked good earlier in camp in 7-on-7 drills and with a few more weeks of practice time, Griffin’s knee will only get stronger.
The quarterback looks and sounds ready. With a big Monday night game, expect Griffin to play, even if it’s only sparingly.
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