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Shanahan won’t repeat mistake

Aug 6, 2013, 11:03 AM EST

Shanahan-camp

RICHMOND—The last time that there were questions about the health of the right knee of Robert Griffin III the quarterback told the coach that he could play on it. The coach believed him and let him play.

That was seven months ago today during the Redskins’ playoff game against the Seahawks. The result, of course, was catastrophic. The injury went from bad to worse and, finally, about as bad as it could be.

Shanahan may have made a mistake last January but at this point you have to believe that he has learned from it. As Griffin is being kept out of team work during training camp, the quarterback is saying he’s fine. Shanahan is saying, not so fast.

“I’m ready to move on,” said Griffin, saying that he has gotten has much as he can out of individual drills and seven on seven passing.

At the end of that sound bite in his Monday morning press conference, Griffin acknowledged that Shanahan has different ideas. “Coach will tell you something else,” he said.

And in the afternoon, Shanahan did say something different.

“We do have a plan for him. He may not always like that plan, but that’s my job sometimes not to be liked,” he said. “My job is to do the best thing for him. That’s what I’ll do.”

One might say that it seems like Shanahan is holding back Griffin just to show him who’s boss. And there may be an element of that here. But there are plenty of other reasons to limit Griffin’s practice activities:

Medical: The prescribed recovery period for an injury of the type that Griffin sustained is seven to nine months. Griffin won’t hit the seven-month mark since his surgery until Friday. They don’t just make these numbers up; they are based on thousands of cases and many years of experience. While Griffin has constantly been “ahead of schedule”, it seems like keeping him out of drills involving contact at least until he hits that seven-month mark is a prudent course of action.

Football: There is plenty of time for Griffin to get ready for the season opener. The prime time contest against the Eagles is four weeks from Monday. If Griffin gets in four good weeks of work he’ll be good to go. Even three weeks is probably enough. So a lack of preparation time is not an issue at this point and it won’t be for another two weeks or so.

PR: Griffin said yesterday that there was a public relations element in his practice schedule. “Obviously with this situation and what we have to deal with here and the DMV and D.C., there is a lot of scrutiny, so Coach also has to account for that,” he said. Griffin’s injury is a topic that transcends the sports universe. It’s headline news. And there is going to be a public relations element in the way that it’s handled. And that’s fine as long as PR is just a factor in decisions and not driving them. Here we have a case where the football and medical considerations align perfectly with what makes for good PR.

All of this makes it easy for Shanahan to hold Griffin back and send the message that any mistakes made in the future will come from being overly cautious and not from taking Griffin’s word that he is good to go.

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