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Should The Redskins’ Medical Staff Be Trusted?

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By Kevin Ross

As the Washington Redskins begin their march toward the playoffs, all are left to wonder if the team’s Drum Major will be healthy enough to lead them. Robert Griffin’s health determines not only this season, but the next 10 seasons. And Mike Shanahan finds himself face-to-face with a Stephen Strasburg like decision. Do you go all out for the playoffs and potentially risk Griffin injuring himself further? Or do you put your playoff aspirations on hold to ensure that Griffin heals properly?

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 09: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins is attended to on the sidelines in the fourth quarter during a game against the Baltimore Ravens at FedExField on December 9, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins defeated the Baltimore Ravens 31-28 in overtime. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

(Credit, Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Kyle Shanahan attempted to give some perspective on the situation,”Robert’s capable of doing anything. He’s not just a running quarterback. If Robert’s healthy enough to play the position and he can protect himself and it won’t cause any harm to his knee, then I want him out there of course. And I know he wants to be out there, but I think it comes down to is there a risk of him hurting himself more and can he protect himself?”

This would qualify as a “by the book” answer from Kyle Shanahan, but the easier and obvious answer to questions about Griffin playing should always be: “We’ll let the doctors determine if he can go.”  And so far the coaching staff has not released any medical opinions on Griffin’s knee, besides the initial report that he was diagnosed with a grade one sprain of the LCL in his right knee.  And just to be clear, a grade one sprain is defined as a stretch or very slight tare of the ligament.  The typical orthopedic surgeon will tell you that the expected recovery timeframe for such an injury is usually about 3 weeks to 3 months, depending on the person and severity of the injury.

But this is the National Football League, where standards for the average man don’t apply. Robert Griffin’s expedited recovery has much to do with the around the clock treatment that’s not available to the general public. And to the overall will that seems to be a trait of most NFL players. And when you get a player such as RG3 on your roster, this is what’s to be expected.

Robert doesn’t see himself as any different from  his teammates.  Team fanatics and media have placed Griffin on a tall pedestal, but inside the locker room Robert see’s himself as one of the guys who must lead by example.  London Fletcher is in a walking boot all week, and plays on Sundays. DeAngelo Hall was on crutches during the work week but played against Baltimore. Looking across the isle at their rivals, Jason Whitten of the Cowboys signed a release form to be able to play with an injured spleen this season.  Griffin understands life in the NFL, and he doesn’t see himself any different from D. Hall or Fletcher, or any of the other NFL player.  It’s time for Washingtonians to stop being so sensitive about RG3.  Robert Griffin is a football player, he’s going to get hit and sometimes he’s going to get hit hard.  He’s going to get injured, and he’s going to be expected to play through injury.  

We all have seen the videos of Griffin prancing around and doing drills in practice, and all the evidence points towards RG3 seeing the filed against Cleveland on Sunday. But it all comes back to what the doctors have to say, but is that a good thing?  Going back to the 2010 season, Brandon Banks injured his left knee, quickly had arthroscopic surgery, and made a speedy recovery 2-weeks later. Since returning too quickly from his knee injury, Banks has never again regained the speed and explosiveness that he first had as a rookie.  And all evidence points towards Brandon Banks time in the NFL coming to an end.  Banks finds himself as a casualty of the Redskins questionable medical staff, who has a long history of putting players back on the field too soon.  Look no further than Brian Orakpo who was put back on the field before his surgically prepared pectoral muscle was completely healed.  Orakpo re-injured the muscle and is out for the season.  We have been conditioned to trust the opinions of doctors, but one has the right to be concerned about RG3 if he see’s the field on Sunday. 

“I have a lot of confidence in Robert. He tells the truth and I think Robert will push himself. Robert’s not the type of guy who’s just going to show up Sunday and give it a shot. I think he’ll push himself during this week so we’ll all be able to watch him and get an idea, mainly from a medical standpoint. I think Robert’s going to be able to show us that he can move well. It’s more is his knee stable enough and can he protect himself in there and is there a risk of a further injury?” –Kyle Shanahan

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Redskins news, see CBS Sports DC.

Kevin Ross is a freelance writer covering all things Washington Redskins. His work can be found on Examiner.com.

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