Reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III is still recovering from a couple fairly serious knee injuries -- the PCL sprain he suffered in Week 14 of the 2012 season against the Baltimore Ravens, and the ACL and PCL tears he had in a wild-card playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan was widely criticized for playing Griffin against the Seahawks when his quarterback was obviously physically failing near the end of the game, but if the recent testimony of renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews is any indication, Shanahan may be off the hook -- and with a truly healthy starting quarteback sooner than later.
"I've been real mum on talking too much about RG 3," Andrews recently told ESPN while working on a feature about South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, who is also under Andrews' care. "He wants his recovery to be fairly private, but I can tell you he's way ahead of schedule. His recovery has been unbelievable so far. RG3 is one those superhumans. First patient I ever had like that was Bo Jackson. And recently I, of course, had Adrian Peterson, who is also superhuman. They have an unbelievable ability to recover, where as a normal human being may not be able to recover."
Peterson, of course, won the NFL Most Valuable Player award after rushing for 2,097 yards in the regular season, and another 99 against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, less than a year after his own major knee surgery. His recovery is now seen as an encouraging test case for every player trying to get back in the game after such injuries (like Lattimore), but as Andrews said, athletes like Adrian Peterson and Robert Griffin III aren't your average human beings.
Andrews wasn't always so positive about the process, insisting that Shanahan was not telling the truth about Shanahan's assertion that Andrews gave Griffin a clean bill of health to return to the Ravens game after he was first hurt.
"He's on the sidelines with Dr. Andrews," Shanahan said the day after the Ravens game. "He had a chance to look at him and he said he could go back in [I said] 'Hey, Dr. Andrews, can Robert go back in?'
'Yeah, he can go back in.'
'Robert, go back in.'
"That was it," Shanahan said.
That's not how Andrews saw it at all.
"[Griffin] didn't even let us look at him," Andrews said. "He came off the field, walked through the sidelines, circled back through the players, and took off back to the field. It wasn't our opinion. We didn't even get to touch him or talk to him. Scared the hell out of me."
At last week's owners meetings, Shanahan reflected on the process, and on Griffin's recovery.
"It's part of the evaluation of people: When people say they're ready to go and maybe they're not, do you keep that in the back of your head? Sure."
In the end, it's all about when Griffin can get back on the field. An opening day prognosis is optimistic to say the least, but five or ten years ago, it might be impossible. It helps, of course, that Griffin is working right hours a day to get back on course.
"I've never seen a guy work that hard in his rehab," Shanahan said. "He's got great strength, he's got great flexibility. And that hopefully gives him a chance to be ready for the season.
"The doctors feel great about where he's at."
Well, one doctor certainly does. And when it comes to knees, Dr. Andrews is the man whose opinion matters.
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