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Protecting the quarterback

Redskins coach plans to exercise caution with franchise player RG3

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ASHBURN, Va. -- Mike Shanahan is adjusting his gut when it comes to Robert Griffin III.

The Washington Redskins coach indicated Wednesday he's going to be more cautious with his franchise quarterback from now on, to the point that he's going to make sure that Griffin "never plays if he's not 100 per cent."

Griffin, the league's offensive rookie of the year, is recovering from reconstructive surgery after reinjuring his right knee in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Shanahan has been criticized for not removing Griffin from the game earlier, especially when Griffin was limping noticeably after a throwing a touchdown pass in the first quarter.

Shanahan said after the game that he relied on Griffin's word that the knee was fine. In various comments since then, Griffin has referred to the responsibility shared by himself and the Redskins staff for the way the injury played out, saying it was a topic for him and Shanahan to discuss.

Asked for his latest take on the fallout, Shanahan said Wednesday he learns about his players as time goes along and that if "it's your gut to take somebody out, sometimes it changes from year to year. I know mine does with different players."

"And so every situation is different," the coach said. "And sometimes you make the right call, other times you don't, but at the end of the day you're always hoping that you learn from your mistakes, whatever they are. So at the end of this year, (as) we go into next year, one thing we're going to make sure of is that Robert never plays if he's not 100 per cent."

"So if he does tell me something," he added. "I'm not going to believe him this year compared to last year."

Shanahan paused.

"That was a joke," he said. "I think."

Every word is parsed when it was comes to RG3, so it's worth noting that "100 per cent" will no doubt have different interpretations once the season is underway. Shanahan himself has often said that no player is 100 per cent by the time December rolls around because of the physical toll of an NFL season.

For that matter, every morsel of news about Griffin's recovery is big news in the nation's capital, even though it will be difficult to truly gauge his progress until training camp begins in late July. For every update that promises that Griffin is ahead of schedule, there another tries to lower expectations. It took Griffin only one hour to backtrack after unveiling an "allinforweek1" shoe commercial campaign on Twitter in February, tweeting subsequently that he won't compromise his career just to play in the regular-season opener in September.

Shanahan has also hyped Griffin's recovery, telling the NFL Network earlier this month that Griffin will "set a record for coming back because that's how hard he works."

The coach was much more cautious Wednesday.

"I don't want to see anything too quick," Shanahan said. "We're dealing with an ACL. That takes time. Mother Nature's going to take its course. ... He does everything we ask him to do, and then some, to get ready, but there's a time frame, there's Mother Nature that's involved, and that ligament takes time to heal."


-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 25, 2013 D9

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