Robert Griffin III Should Save Return for Season Opener to Prevent Injury Risk

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - JANUARY 06:  Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins walks off of the field injured in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at FedExField on January 6, 2013 in Landover, Maryland.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Washington Redskins star quarterback Robert Griffin III has been medically cleared by doctors to return to practice, per Griffin’s Twitter account. Still, the organization must play it safe and limit his activity until the season opener.

Head coach Mike Shanahan made mistakes last season by pushing his rookie quarterback too hard. In light of those mistakes, the franchise must slow Griffin back into practice and not let him face any live action until Week 1 against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Redskins are already looking to play it safe with the QB’s health in order to avoid any setbacks with the knee injury:

Despite Robert Griffin III being medically cleared to participate in training camp, it still would be a major surprise if he played in a preseason game based on Mike Shanahan's coaching history and the thoughts of some in the Washington Redskins organization.

Shanahan, who put Griffin through an extensive workout Monday after team doctors cleared his return to practice, would not specifically address questions of whether Griffin would play this summer. But sources who know the coach expressed pessimism Griffin would return in the preseason.

Griffin underwent surgery in early January to repair the torn ACL and LCL in his right knee, per Jim Corbett of USA Today. Just over seven months later, the talented second-year phenom is already cleared for practice.  

The recovery is stunning—comparable to the timetable of Minnesota Vikings Comeback Player of the Year Adrian Peterson—but it should only make the team feel luckier that the damage wasn’t worse.

The Redskins want their face of the franchise healthy for years to come, and not forcing him to play in the preseason will ensure his leg is as close to 100 percent as possible when Week 1 arrives and the games start to count.

Washington will undoubtedly lose some chemistry shoehorning Griffin into the game plan during the team’s Monday night battle against division rival Philadelphia. However, the talent he possesses still gives Washington the best chance to win, even with the time he will have missed due to his knee injury.

As the regular season approaches, Shanahan and the coaching staff will likely ease Griffin into the practice rotation and allow him to split snaps with likely preseason starter Kirk Cousins.

With Cousins taking over for Griffin when needed last year and performing admirably, the Redskins have been afforded the unique chance to play it safe with the team’s top star by leaning on a viable backup.

There is little doubt that Griffin will start for the Redskins in Week 1, but he shouldn’t take a live snap before his first play of the 2013 season opener.