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Mike Shanahan: Diagnosis Of LCL Sprain For Robert Griffin III ‘Was Positive News’

By ZAC BOYER | @ZacBoyer

(Originally posted 12/10/12, 3:02 p.m.; Updated 12/10/12, 5:24 p.m.)

ASHBURN – Mike Shanahan said Monday that Robert Griffin III has a moderate sprain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee but has not ruled that the quarterback is unable to play in the Washington Redskins’ game at Cleveland next weekend.

Griffin III

Shanahan, the Redskins’ head coach, said Griffin has a Grade 1 sprain of the LCL, which is located on the outside of the knee. The injury occurred late in the fourth quarter of the Redskins’ 31-28 overtime victory over Baltimore when he was tackled awkwardly while scrambling.

Considering the way Griffin’s knee looked as he took the hit in the fourth quarter, Shanahan believed the injury could have been much worse.

“It was positive news,” Shanahan said.

Griffin was scrambling on second-and-19 from Washington’s 27-yard line with 1:56 remaining and the Redskins trailing by eight points. Instead of running out of bounds, Griffin cut toward the middle of the field to avoid Bernard Pollard; though he escaped the Ravens’ strong safety, defensive end Haloti Ngata hit him after a 13-yard gain, with Griffin’s right knee awkwardly whipping around as he fell.

The quarterback was replaced by Kirk Cousins, who tied the score after a touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon and a two-point conversion run with 29 seconds remaining. Kai Forbath made a 34-yard field goal in overtime for the win.

A Grade 1 sprain is categorized as such when the ligament is either stretched or has slight tearing and is typically accompanied by mild swelling. The team initially announced late Sunday after Griffin underwent an MRI that the quarterback had no major structural damage to any one of the four knee ligaments.

Shanahan clarified that the examination showed the LCL was the only ligament affected. Griffin tore the ACL in that same knee in 2009, when he was a sophomore at Baylor.

“He’s doing good,” left tackle Trent Williams said Monday. “He’s in high spirits. He’s lucky. It was a pretty nasty, awkward hit, and for him not to be seriously injured is a blessing.”

Griffin left the game for one play after sustaining the injury and was replaced by Cousins, who attempted a pass to Garçon that fell incomplete but was negated by a pass interference penalty. Griffin then returned for the next four plays, but he could not put weight on the foot and was supporting himself primarily on his left leg after his throws.

Shanahan defended the decision to allow Griffin to return to the game because he was cleared by James Andrews, a renowned orthopedic surgeon who serves as a consultant for the team and was on the sidelines for the game.

But when Griffin collapsed to the grass after being flagged for intentional grounding with 49 seconds remaining – a play he made because of a bad snap – he had to leave the game.

He was given a thick black brace for the knee, which he wore as he limped through the locker room and to and from his post-game press conference. Shanahan did not know whether Griffin would be able to practice when the Redskins reconvene on Wednesday.

If Griffin cannot play, Cousins would likely start against the Browns. Rex Grossman, who has not played at all this season as the third quarterback, could conceivably be active for the first time on Sunday as well, Shanahan said.

“You’re hoping with rehab it gets better very quickly, but you don’t know for sure,” Shanahan said. “We’ll have to go day by day and evaluate it day by day.”