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Robert Griffin III Returns To Practice Wednesday Despite Sprained Right Knee

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

(Originally posted 12/12/12, 12:05 p.m.; Updated 12/12/12, 4:47 p.m.)

ASHBURN – Knowing full well the focus was entirely on him at the Washington Redskins’ Wednesday morning practice, Robert Griffin III completed a pass, turned around, smiled and waved to a cluster of reporters watching him from just outside the back corner of the end zone.

Griffin III

“I don’t know if you guys saw the wave,” the Washington Redskins’ quarterback asked roughly two hours later. “I waved to you guys, just letting you guys know I’m OK.”

Griffin was in his typical easygoing mood Wednesday, obscuring any hint that his right knee was of any concern to him three days after he sprained it against Baltimore.

The diagnosis was a Grade 1 sprain of the lateral collateral ligament, which the quarterback said he was “blessed” to receive.

Still, he was officially considered limited in practice by the coaching staff, and his availability for Sunday’s game at Cleveland remains uncertain.

Head coach Mike Shanahan said regardless of whether a decision on Griffin is made before the game, he’s likely not to reveal it just to maintain a competitive advantage.

“I’m sure we’re going to hear lots of things as we move forward and the game is only a couple days away,” Browns head coach Pat Shurmur told Cleveland-based reporters. “We can’t really worry about that. We have to get ready to play their offense.”

If Griffin cannot play, Kirk Cousins would be expected to make his first start over veteran Rex Grossman. Cousins, also a rookie, entered in the final two minutes and helped the Redskins tie the score against the Ravens with 29 seconds left, throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon and then running for the tying two-point conversion before Kai Forbath made a 34-yard field goal in overtime for the win.

The attention gained from leading the comeback has been overwhelming, Cousins said. He estimated 140 people had reached out to him through text messages, but only his parents, his grandparents and his brother and sister received a call back.

Despite the situation, Cousins maintained his preparation won’t change. He declined to reveal the percentage of snaps he took with the first team during practice – “I was advised not to comment on the rep distribution,” he said – but maintained he’ll be ready.

“When you go the distance, you’ve got a little bit more of a chance to really show your true colors,” Cousins said. “I don’t feel like going 2-for-2 [against the Ravens] is a very convincing argument to say I know what I’m doing or that I’ve proved I know what I’m doing. I think I still got a lot of football in me to show that.”

For all purposes, Griffin didn’t look too bothered by the knee during the 20 minutes of practice open to reporters. He stretched, jogged and sprinted during warmups – a session that regularly includes knee raises – and then threw a few passes to receivers while going through positional drills.

He occasionally hopped on his left foot after throwing a pass and would swing the right around stiffly on his follow-through. Some of his throws to the right were thrown weaker, but not all.

The Redskins’ game plan would, undoubtedly, change if Griffin were not to play. Cousins doesn’t have Griffin’s mobility, of course, which would significantly remove the threat of the option play and some of Washington’s other quarterback rollouts.

Cousins, though, was quick to caution that he’s not entirely incapable of surviving in the offense. His off-schedule touchdown throw to Garçon, for one, demonstrated an ability to extend a play he believes he learned not only from watching Griffin, but also from the mistakes he made in throwing two interceptions in relief against Atlanta on Oct. 7.

“I think you always grow any time you practice and you’re doing the scout team, watching game film, just going through a week of preparation,” Shanahan said. “There’s a growing curve for a young guy, and obviously, with Kirk, no difference.”

Griffin said he initially believed the pain in the knee would prevent him from playing against the Browns. As time has progressed, he’s felt better, but even he couldn’t say whether he’d face Cleveland.

“Sunday night I thought there was probably no chance that I could play next week, and then Monday morning, I felt better about it,” Griffin said. “Yesterday I felt better about it, and today I feel really good about it, so it just depends on if I continue to progress the way I am.”

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