WASHINGTON (CBSDC) – Robert Griffin III is nearing the nine-month marker in his recovery from tearing his ACL and LCL in the Redskins home playoff loss to Seattle on Jan. 6.
After an offseason of speculation over whether he’d return in time for week one, and now two losses under his belt as the starter in 2013, concerns for his knee are as rampant as ever.
Griffin, whose right knee both he and the team have said to be 100 percent, hasn’t looked it himself, as he’s gingerly made his way through the pocket against Packers and Eagles defenses, and the attention has again turned away from the knee itself, to the protective device shielding it from further harm.
After experimenting with multiple knee braces in recovery this offseason, RGIII finally settled on DonJoy’s Defiance, which, aside from being aptly named with regards to the expedited pace at which Griffin made his recovery, has become just another part of his Redskins uniform.
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“The brace is only a pound and two ounces,” said Brian Moore, director of athletic business and team sports for DJO Global, DonJoy’s parent company. “His helmet weighs more than that, his shoulder pads weigh more than that, his rib protector weighs more than that, his shoes weigh more than that.”
“He’s as comfortable in that brace as he is in his underwear,” said Moore, who also spoke with Brian McNally of the Washington Times prior to the season; a high-value read which warrants advancement with questions looming of Griffin’s true health.
There seems to be a misconception that wearing a brace is some new thing for Griffin, despite him wearing one in 2010 at Baylor, and even four games last season after taking that vicious hit from Ravens defensive lineman Haloti Ngata in week fourteen.
Even the brace he’s currently wearing, he wore long before the Redskins week one loss to Philadelphia.
“Let’s face it, I think a lot of people think that ten minutes before the game he put the brace on for the first time or something,” Moore said. “He’s been wearing this brace longer than he’s been wearing his football helmet and shoulder pads.”
“At probably week twelve after surgery, which you know is only two or three months after surgery, and actually he wears a brace right out of surgery, so he’s been wearing a brace for eight months basically,” he explained.
Although Moore admittedly has never dealt with Griffin directly, both the Redskins’ head athletic trainer, Larry Hess, and team doctor Dr. James Andrews, use DJO products and made the decision to stick with the trusted brand in protecting Washington’s quarterback through his rehabilitation.
“Our contact with him was just basically to measure the brace, make sure it was working good, if he had any concerns,” Moore said, stipulating Griffin was fitted for multiple braces, both, replacements for the sideline, in case one gets dinged up in a game, as well as others to compensate for growth, as the shape of his leg morphs as it continues to build in strength.
Griffin isn’t the only NFL quarterback to wear the Defiance model, Moore says, adding that’s it’s also wrapped around the lead legs of Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, and others … preventively.
“I assume probably Larry and his doctor would like him to wear it forever because it is a protective device,” Moore said.
“So he may wear that brace forever, who knows, just as a preventive measure,” he noted. “He may not. He may say ‘I’m done.’”
The bottom line is, 100% or not, knee brace or not, Griffin hasn’t been the same quarterback – the one who ran for 815 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2012 – in 2013.
So if it’s not the knee and it’s not the brace, what is it?
Why has Griffin been stuck in the pocket, often times looking sluggish in the first half of football games, only amassing 25 yards on the ground through the first two weeks?
“He had no preseason, no nothing, so that confidence thing, yea, I think it’s a big thing,” Moore said, maintaining that wearing a brace actually serves to enhance Griffin’s confidence.
“I think he’s as fast, if not faster than he ever was,” Moore posited.
Surely the quarterback who the Redskins traded away three first-round draft picks to get, who led Washington to its first NFC East championship in thirteen years, couldn’t be lacking in confidence.
“The thing with knee injuries,” Moore said. “It’s not so much he’s worried about stealth; there’s 21 bodies around you flying around and they’re not small guys.”
So whether it’s the knee, the brace, a lack of confidence, or a combination of all of the above, Griffin’s recovery of his image, and the quarterback he was his rookie season, is not yet 100 percent.