ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Robert Griffin III’s rehab started with a “cry festival.” Then came a special new passcode for his cellphone and a chance to hash things out with coach Mike Shanahan.
There’s also been a Twitter rant about political correctness, some flak about all the wedding gifts he’s received and, most recently, a suggestion from his father that the Washington Redskins should pass the ball more.
On Thursday, the road back included running some drills at an offseason practice. Wearing a helmet but no jersey and sporting a large brace on his reconstructed right knee, Griffin did some handoffs and throws with other teammates recovering from injuries. It’s the latest step toward his goal of playing in the season opener in September.
“As soon as I woke up out of the surgery, I put the date of the first game in my phone,” Griffin said. “It was the passcode of my phone for a month. … That’s always been the goal, but I’m not going to risk my career to play in one game. Yeah, I’m definitely all-in on for Week 1, but I’m also all-in for my career as well.”
It was Griffin’s first Redskins Park news conference of the offseason, an occasion that attracted an extraordinary media hoard to a routine May workout and showed again just how important the health of Griffin’s knee — and everything else about him, for that matter — has become in the nation’s capital.
Start with the tears. When Griffin went under the knife on Jan. 9 — three days after he was injured in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks — he didn’t know whether his ACL needed repair. When he awoke and realized that it had, he immediately went back to sleep because he couldn’t deal with the news.
“It’s one of the things I get emotional about because it was tough at that time,” Griffin said. “Yeah, I cried. Real men cry. It’s doesn’t matter. And I moved on. As soon as we finished our little cry festival, I put the date of the first week in my phone.”
In addition to the physical rehab, there also needed to be a meeting of the minds with Shanahan, who was widely criticized for leaving Griffin in the Seahawks game too long after it became clear the quarterback was injured.
“We hashed everything out. We talked, and we’re moving forward from it,” Griffin said.
Griffin didn’t go into specifics, instead stressing the need for everyone to be on the same page. Shanahan said the conversation was part of an overall review of the season.
“You talk about things that you could have done differently,” the coach said. “Things that went poorly during the season, things that went well.”
Griffin struck the same tone when asked about whether there should be changes to the offense, perhaps to take away some of his designed runs. He missed all or part of four games because of injuries last season, and his father told The Washington Post this week: “I want him throwing that football, a lot.”
“I told him ‘thank you’ because that’s what he’s supposed to say as my father,” Griffin said. “Yeah, he doesn’t want to see me running out there; he wants to see me throwing the ball. He’s the one that trained me. He knows what he can do. Coach knows what I can do.”
Griffin also said he could make better decisions on the field to stay healthy.
“The one thing everyone gets fired up about is that they say I need to change the way I play,” he said. “And my view on that is: I can’t change my mindset, but I can be smarter about what I do out there. I’ve got a year of experience, which some might not think that’s a lot, but a year of experience in the NFL is big for anyone. I know what I have to do and then what I don’t have to do, so it’s about limiting those hits, making sure that I’m staying out there for my teammates.”
While the rehab is tough, Griffin said it’s easier to endure because he also had an ACL injury while playing in college at Baylor. There were times during Thursday’s practice when he seemed to be favoring the knee, but he was able to run and plant as he ran drills with what he called the “all-world uncleared team” that included fellow rehabbers Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis.
“As long as you can get a little bit of work in, you still feel like you’re part of the team — even though we’re separated from the team,” Griffin said.
Griffin said the next two phases in his comeback are “explosive sprinting” and “cutting,” both of which he hopes to accomplish in the next month or so. The Redskins keep saying he’s “ahead of schedule,” but it’s too early to gauge how much he’ll be able to practice when training camp begins in late July.
“I really don’t know what ‘ahead of schedule’ means, except for the doctors, they keep saying he’s ahead of schedule,” Shanahan said. “We want to be patient with it.”
Griffin’s good-natured demeanor was a contrast to his sharp words in a pair of recent Twitter rants. Last month he tweeted that Americans “are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness” and this week hit back at criticism he received for posting a photo of a pile of wedding presents sent to him by fans.
“It’s really been crazy,” Griffin said Thursday. “You really can’t do anything or say anything without it being blown out of proportion. When it comes to the political correctness tweet … the only thing I will say about that is there’s a difference between political correctness, common sense and being offensive.”
Griffin, who is getting married in July, then thanked the fans for the gifts that started pouring in after his wedding registry was made public.
“I didn’t ask you guys to do that,” he said, addressing the fans. “The media made that public, and you guys decided to get me gifts out of the generosity of your heart. … Anything else that came after that, criticism and stuff like that, you’ve just got to move on and not worry about it.”
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