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Comparisons To Michael Vick Could Also Forecast Injuries To Robert Griffin III

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

ASHBURN – On a weekend in which quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick and their teams are set to meet, Vick remains unlikely to play because of injury – a situation which in itself may serve as a cautionary tale for Griffin’s future.

Griffin

Vick left Philadelphia’s loss to Dallas four days ago after sustaining a concussion in the second quarter and did not practice for the Eagles on Wednesday. If he does not play against the Washington Redskins on Sunday, he will have missed 22 games because of injury in his 10 seasons in the NFL.

It’s a byproduct of Vick’s electrifying style – his ability not only to throw the ball as a traditional quarterback, but also to take off and run with it. Griffin, too, has taken that approach during his first nine games with the Redskins, and he’s already been forced from one game with a concussion and bruised ribs in another.

If the two players are so similar, is there any way Griffin can avoid such a similar fate?

“You run, you play the style they play, and you’re going to take some hits,” Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid said.

Vick missed the first 11 games of the 2003 season after breaking his right fibula during a preseason game – an injury he incurred while scrambling. But he also has taken his fair share of hits while in the pocket, such as when he broke two ribs last season and missed three games.

Sprained knees, separated shoulders and a back injury have also kept him from making a start – not to mention the games he’s been unable to finish.

Griffin, who said he grew up watching Vick, has tried to take greater precaution during games, especially after he had the concussion on Oct. 7 against Atlanta. But “football is a violent game,” he said, and there’s only so much a quarterback can do to protect themselves before being a detriment to the rest of their team.

“If it’s fourth-and-four, it’s worth anything,” Griffin said. “It doesn’t matter what the score is [or] how much time is left in the game. You make that decision in the heat of the moment.”

League policy prohibits players recovering from concussions to speak to reporters until they are fully cleared to return to football, and Vick did not report to the Eagles’ facility on Wednesday, instead opting to rest at home.

But last week, before the concussion, he told reporters that his continuous struggle to stay healthy enough to play is something he owes to the rest of his team.

“It’s not the [most fun] thing in the world to get hit over and over and over again, but I just keep getting up,” Vick said. “That’s why I continue to go as hard as I can and continue to try to make each and every play that I can, even though sometimes I can find myself trying to do too much and overcompensating. The thing that I have to do as my job and the way I’ve always played is just to keep going, keep playing, keep fighting.”

Concussions sustained by quarterbacks, in particular, have overshadowed the sport. Chicago’s Jay Cutler and San Francisco’s Alex Smith also left their games with concussions last week, with Cutler uncertain to play for the Bears on Sunday.

Griffin has maintained the league’s concussion policy, which requires a gradual return to top physical exertion and a neurological exam from an independent physician, worked for him and is suitable for the league.

But Vick has only sustained two document concussions – the other came early last season – and it’s the variety of other breaks, pulls and sprains that have hampered him throughout his career.

“You’re always hoping people can stay healthy, and I think Robert has gotten much better at knowing when to slide or when to throw the ball away and different things that we talked about earlier in the season,” Shanahan said. “You’re always trying to keep away from those concussions and those head injuries, which are obvious. … I think it brings attention to how much contact is involved, especially at the quarterback position.”

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