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On the mend: RG3's knee, relationship with coach

The SportsXchange

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III's right knee and his relationship with coach Mike Shanahan, each of which was damaged to an extent during the wild card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, are coming along well according to player himself.

Griffin, who needed surgery on his LCL and ACL three days after playing much of the Seahawks game on one healthy leg, worked on the field in front of the media for the first time on Thursday and then met with the media en masse for the first time since the injury.

"Me and Mike hashed everything out," Griffin said. "The injury and what happened with the injury clouded the success that we had the whole season. It left a bad taste in the mouth of everybody. I don't have a problem with the way I was used (last year).

"It's proven (that) when you have consistency at the head coach position and the quarterback position, everybody's on the same page, you win a lot more. I don't think there's anything that needs to be repaired. The only thing that needed to be repaired from last year was my knee and that's repaired."

Shanahan, who yielded to Griffin's desire to keep playing against Seattle until the quarterback had to be helped off the field in the fourth quarter, also played down reports of any rift between him and the franchise player for whom he gave St. Louis three first-round draft picks and a second-round selection.

"You talk about things that you could have done differently," Shanahan said. "Robert's the first person to tell you that this year, 'I'm going to be a little bit more conservative than he was a year ago.' If you're not on the field, you're going to hurt our football team. ... We're going to try to protect Robert as much as we can. We're going to let him do the things we think he does best and hopefully it will be as productive."

Griffin was so productive in 2012 that he set NFL rookie records for passer rating (102.4) and rushing yards (815) while leading the Redskins to their first NFC East title since 1999 after four straight years in the division basement.

"I can't change my mindset, but I can be smarter about what I do out there," Griffin said. "I know what I have to do and what I don't have to do. It's about limiting those hits, making sure that I'm staying out there for my teammates.

"If it's third-and-7 and I'm three yards away from the first down and here comes (Pittsburgh safety) Ryan Clark trying to take my head off like he did last year, you slide or you get out of bounds. After what happened to me and what happened to this team at the end of the year, I understand that I have to more careful when it comes to that. I'm not going to risk my career to play in one game. I'm definitely all-in for Week One, but I'm also all-in for my career as well."

Griffin isn't all-in these days, but he's not just a spectator either. At Griffin's request, Shanahan carved off a section of the main practice field for the quarterback to throw and/or hand off to receiver Pierre Garcon, tight ends Fred Davis and Jordan Reed, and running backs Roy Helu and Chris Thompson, all of whom are also rehabbing injuries.

"An all-world uncleared (to practice) team," quipped Griffin, who believes that he'll be cleared to return to full practice by the July 25 opening of training camp.

The Redskins' medical staff wants to make sure that the team's most important player doesn't overdo it now or during the summer. Shanahan said that as long as Griffin takes some practice snaps with the regulars during training camp, he could skip the entire preseason and still start the Sept. 9 opener against Philadelphia.

As for today, Griffin, who admitted he cried when he woke up after surgery and realized that his ACL had been operated on as well as his LCL, said that his knee felt great and that he was able to do everything without any hesitation. Which is how he plans to play in 2013.

"You come back like you were never hurt 'cause that's the only way you can play," he said. "You don't play the game afraid to get hurt. You play the game like you're supposed to be invincible while at the same time being smart."
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