WASHINGTON (AP) — So much for perfect harmony. Even on a night when the news is good, Robert Griffin III and Mike Shanahan can’t sing the same song.
Minutes after the Washington Redskins quarterback tweeted to the world that he was “Cleared for Takeoff” in his return from major knee surgery, the coach kept him sitting on the runway for a least a few more days, declining to name Griffin as the Week 1 starter.
There is agreement on one very important matter. On Thursday night, when the Redskins were in Florida to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Griffin was cleared to play after being examined yet again by Dr. James Andrews, a remarkable development that comes less than eight months after he repaired Griffin’s right knee in January.
Then it gets murky. Griffin celebrated the news by tweeting: “Operation Patience….Complete. Cleared. To God Be The Glory.” ”Operation Patience” was the catchphrase Griffin used to help deal with the frustration he felt when he was limited in practice by Shanahan during training camp and not allowed to play in preseason games. Griffin also tweeted a link to a photo of himself saluting while wearing his Redskins uniform, with the caption “Cleared for Takeoff.”
Shanahan held his postgame news conference and announced that Andrews did indeed clear Griffin to play, but: “There’s a couple concerns that he has. I’ll talk to Robert over the weekend and I’ll let you guys know on Monday.”
Shanahan declined to identify the “concerns” the doctor supposedly has. Asked directly whether Griffin would start against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9, Shanahan wouldn’t give an answer.
“I’ll share that with you on Monday which direction we’re going,” he said.
On the surface, it didn’t make sense. If a doctor has “concerns,” then why clear the player to play? Andrews himself seemed to distance himself from Shanahan’s comments on Friday with a text message to the Washington Post: “None of it is true. No concerns.”
Nevertheless, the episode fits the Griffin-Shanahan pattern that has dominated the Redskins’ world on a weekly basis since the start of training camp. Griffin makes a statement; Shanahan says not-so-fast. It comes off as a power play between hard-nosed coach and telegenic franchise player, with the coach ultimately reminding everyone who’s in charge.
If there are unspecified “concerns,” they could include another reminder to Griffin to protect himself better. The multi-threat quarterback missed all or part of four games last year due to injuries, and he’s promised this year to do a better job avoiding contact when he’s running with the ball.
Or the whole thing could just be a standard coach’s ploy to keep the opposition off balance, although that would hardly seem effective in this game. The Eagles no doubt have been preparing to face the unconventional RG3, so it would hardly be a coach’s headache if they suddenly learned they were instead facing conventional backup Kirk Cousins.
None of the latest back-and-forth has altered the convention wisdom: Everyone who has seen Griffin practice agrees that he looks good and will be under center against the Eagles.
“I have the same thought I had in my mind when I came into camp,” receiver Santana Moss said. “I was preparing for him to ready by Week 1.”
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