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Robert Griffin III To Undergo Additional Examination On Right Knee

By ZAC BOYER

zboyer@freelancestar.com | @ZacBoyer

(Originally posted 1/7/13, 3:01 p.m.; Updated 1/7/13, 8:42 p.m.)

ASHBURN – As Robert Griffin III lay in a crumpled heap on the grass at FedEx Field on Sunday night, a Washington Redskins season that began with so much promise was set to end with so much heartbreak and, yes, so much pain.

Griffin III

Griffin had revitalized the region and exorcised the demons of a team that had gone so long without a postseason appearance. And as the shadows of the team’s past began to dissipate at the start of its first playoff game in five years, the rookie quarterback’s uncertain condition once again has begun to cast gloom over its future.

Preliminary examinations taken Sunday failed to provide any conclusive diagnosis on the status of Griffin’s knee, and the quarterback will undergo additional testing today in Pensacola, Fla. with renowned orthopedist James Andrews to determine the extent of the damage.

The results should answer some questions for Griffin – what’s wrong, when he can play, why it happened – but they won’t solve them all. Should the quarterback, in whom much of the franchise’s future is invested, have been allowed to continue playing after originally showing signs of injury in the first quarter?

“Robert’s our franchise quarterback, and I’m not gonna take a chance on his career to win a game,” Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said Monday. “But I also know that when you’ve got the belief in the guy, and you feel that he can play at a certain level and the doctors are telling you he’s OK to go in, then you’ve got to do what you think is right. If I didn’t think it was right, he wouldn’t have been in there. It’s just that simple.”

Griffin had been playing with a sprained LCL in his right knee for the better part of the month, tracing to an awkward hit he sustained against Baltimore on Dec. 9. He also tore the ACL in 2009 during his sophomore season at Baylor, which took nearly a year to completely heal.

Both ligaments remain the concern, which could call into doubt Griffin’s readiness for the start of offseason workouts in April. It is unlikely Griffin has completely torn either ligament, as an MRI taken after the game would have revealed such a tear.

Instead, the issue seems to be centered on whether smaller tears or stretching in each ligament is a sign of new damage or if they are just remnants of previous injuries.

“Honestly, it’s up in the air for me right now,” Griffin, prohibited by the team from speaking Monday, said after the game. “I know coming off the field I thought it was just the same thing. But right now, we’ll see what it is. No matter what it is, our season’s over right now and I’ve just got to make sure that I get back healthy no matter what the injury is.”

Washington was at Seattle’s 4-yard line and in position to score late in the first quarter when Griffin ran to his right and planted his right foot, causing the knee to give out.

He was extremely limited for much of the rest of the game and exhibited difficulty running and throwing, and finally left midway through the fourth quarter after the knee twisted beneath him while he tried to recover a low snap.

Shanahan was bombarded with questions after the game about how he could allow Griffin, visibly hobbled, to continue to play for so long. The head coach put the onus on the quarterback, who confirmed that the decision to play was his after the team’s athletic training staff cleared him to return.

Teammates defended the decisions made by Griffin and Shanahan on Monday, echoing Griffin’s boast after the game that his obligation is to play.

“I feel like in Robert’s situation, man, he’s our quarterback,” receiver Santana Moss said Monday. “He’s our starting quarterback. If he can go at 60 percent, he’s better than half of the guys out there. That’s how I look at it. He could barely run the last what, three weeks? Four weeks? He’s still hard to catch.”

Shanahan and members of the Redskins’ offensive coaching staff has repeated often during the season that working with a player as unique as Griffin would be a learning experience.

The knee injuries, combined with a concussion he sustained in the Oct. 7 game against Atlanta, show that keeping Griffin healthy long-term may be the biggest challenge of all.

“When it comes to the impact of the injury, I’m not sure what it is,” Griffin said after the game. “We’ll figure that out here in the next few days. Whatever it is, I’ll make sure I come back healthy from it.”

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