Quarterback Robert Griffin III of the Washington Redskins, the Offensive Rookie of the Year last season, has reportedly been making rapid progress in his recovery from surgery to repair a torn ACL and LCL.
It didn’t look good after Griffin went wincing in pain on the FedEx Field turf in last seasons Wildcard Playoff matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. At the time, Las Vegas oddsmakers had Griffin III favored to miss the opener, but a lot has changed since then. Griffin III claimed in June that he would “without a doubt” be ready for Washington’s training camp which starts on Thursday 25th July, and thus far he has shown signs that he will indeed be taking some snaps. However, he still needs to convince team doctors that he is healthy enough to do so.
Griffin III is able to sprint and cut again, and he also now walks with no sign of a limp. Indeed, he is an incredible athlete and he could be capable of coming back from his injury in a similar time to Adrian Peterson, who also suffered a torn ACL and MCL in 2011 but returned in 2012 to have his best season, in which he rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns. Some of the Redskins are “astonished” by the rate of his recovery. However, to expect an Adrian Peterson-esque recovery from Griffin III is unfair. ESPN Radio’s Chris Russell tweeted on Saturday that the Redskins have not yet set a date for Griffin III’s return, according to a source involved in his medical treatment, so the expectations of fans and teammates alike must be realistic.
Russell’s tweet clearly shows that there remains uncertainty as to whether or not Griffin III will be ready for the Redskins’ regular season opener on September 9th against the Philadelphia Eagles, who will present a distinctly different challenge under Chip Kelly to last year’s Eagles. Mike Jones of the Washington Post, however, recently said that RG3 looked on track to start in Week 1.
Washington fans can take solace in the fact that back up quarterback Kirk Cousins has been preparing for the season as if he is the starter, so in the event that Griffin III cannot play in Week 1, he will be ready. Cousins, who Marc Sessler feels is the best backup quarterback in the NFL, led the Redskins to a fourth quarter comeback to tie their Week 14 game against this year’s Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, which the Redskins went on to win in overtime. Cousins also displayed his talents in Washington’s Week 15 38-21 victory against the Cleveland Browns in which he recovered from an early interception to throw for 329 yards and 2 touchdowns, one of which was a 54 yard bomb to Leonard Hankerson into triple coverage. Cousins’ stellar performance against Cleveland earned him the Week 15 Rookie of the Week award.
Much like Matt Flynn during his time in Green Bay, Cousins has a solid supporting cast in his Redskins teammates. Running back Alfred Morris was second only to Adrian Peterson in rushing yards in 2012 with 1613; tight end Fred Davis, who was resigned by the Redskins this offseason, is one of the league’s better receiving tight ends; and receiver Pierre Garçon is capable of stretching the field whilst Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson are both reliable catchers. Meanwhile, the Redskins’ offensive line protected Griffin III well last season, allowing only 33 sacks, which was below the league average of sacks allowed.
Obviously, RG3 is the better quarterback of the two, and most would rather he start in Week 1 if healthy. However, if Cousins has to play in Week 1 against the Eagles, he will be competitive; he is not the quarterback that RG3 is, but he can get the job done in his own way, as he proved in his rookie season. For the time being, Cousins must continue to prepare himself as the starter because the first three games of the Redskins’ season – against Philadelphia, Green Bay and Detroit respectively– all present tough challenges for the reigning NFC East champions. However, the signs are showing not to bet against Griffin III being ready for Week 1.