ASHBURN Robert Griffin III’s long journey is nearly over.
Tuesday brought more positive developments for Griffin, the Redskins’ quarterback, as his coach, Mike Shanahan, acknowledged that things are looking good for a Week 1 start. Later in the evening, ESPN debuted “The Will to Win,” a documentary about Griffin’s return from injury.
The film showed a man possessed by his goal of playing against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 9. He went through intense training, including in 100-degree Las Vegas heat the morning after his bachelor party.
“If anything, (the injury) has made me more hungry,” he said in a radio interview Tuesday. “I didn’t think that was possible, but I am.”
Official medical clearance could come as soon as Thursday night when the Redskins play in Tampa.
At some point that evening, orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews, who reconstructed Griffin’s ACL and LCL, will evaluate Griffin and could give his OK for Griffin to play.
Shanahan has made it clear that he’ll have to give his approval, too, but he’s given Griffin the majority of snaps with the first team all week, an indication of which way he’s leaning.
“I have not seen a setback,” Shanahan said. “He looks good. Like I said, I’ve seen much improvement from the first day to where he’s at now, in his ability to move, his ability to scramble, and the ease in which he practices.”
Shanahan wasn’t featured prominently in the film, but team trainer Larry Hess was, commenting on how Griffin had to be held back from doing too much, even the morning after his surgery.
The film, which was produced by Gatorade, showed Griffin winning the Redskins’ offseason “strong man” competition, doing more pull ups and push ups than Eric Kettani, a fullback who attended the Naval Academy.
Still, Griffin acknowledged for the first time that he understands the pressure he’s under to get his rehab right, and said that if he gets injured, he knows fans will blame him for coming back too quickly.
Tuesday morning he made an appearance on ESPN 980 in Washington to promote the film, and discussed the level of scrutiny he works under.
“Anything you say is going to be dissected. That’s just how it is,” he said. “On the other hand, when you’re successful, a lot of people take notice. … We want (the fans) to be happy. We want this city to be happy. If we win, everybody goes to work the next day feeling a little better.”
Griffin’s sense of humor was showcased in the film, at one point drawing a text rebuke from Hess when Griffin jumped in front of a large crowd at the Redskins’ draft day party.
Griffin, who is known as “Robert” to friends and family, shared that his parents had a third child because they wanted a son (Griffin has two older sisters). A sonogram revealed that Griffin would be a girl as well, which ultimately proved to be incorrect.
Griffin served as an executive producer on the film, and said he wanted fans to get a look at his rehab, though he refuses to call it a comeback, saying that he was “never gone.”
All indications are that Thursday night will bring him one step closer to his goal of starting in Week 1, nine months after reconstructive surgery. It’s a remarkable feat no matter what word is used to describe it.
Redskins’ 75-man roster is set
The Redskins completed their 75-man roster on Tuesday, with a late surprise that meant an additional cut.
Offensive lineman Maurice Hurt, who was expected to go onto the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list, was instead kept on the team’s active roster.
Coaches have said Hurt arrived at camp out of shape, although Tuesday’s move protects his eligibility to play Week 1. If he had been moved to the Reserve/PUP list, he wouldn’t have been eligible until Week 7.
To offset that decision, coach Mike Shanahan cut cornerback Ryan Mouton after Tuesday’s afternoon practice. The other players who were cut were released on Monday morning.
By Saturday afternoon, the Redskins must cut their roster to 53 players. On Sunday, they can make an eight-man practice squad out of eligible players who weren’t picked up by other teams.
Most starters won’t play Thursday
Only a handful of the Redskins’ starters will play Thursday night’s game in Tampa.
Among that group are rookie cornerback David Amerson and rookie safety Bacarri Rambo.
Each has made strides in the preseason, but given the learning curve in the NFL, coaches want to get them as much experience as possible before the season begins.
Quarterback Pat White will play the entire game. Backups Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman participated in Wednesday’s practice, but won’t be subjected to the injury risk.
Most of the players will be undrafted rookies and veterans fighting for roster spots. Linebacker Brian Orakpo told them not to take the opportunity lightly.
“Everybody says the roster is already done, but you never know,” he said. “It’s a chance for guys to really showcase their talents, and make it a tough choice for the coaches to make.”
Jenkins’ incidental hit leads to Kolb concussion
The NFL has been trying to remove concussions from the game for years, but sometimes there’s just nothing that can be done about a collision.
One example came in Saturday’s preseason game between the Redskins and Buffalo Bills. Buffalo quarterback Kevin Kolb was running, and slid to end the play.
Washington defender Brandon Jenkins had been sprinting at Kolb, and as he slowed down, his knee bumped into Kolb’s head. The hit went entirely unnoted at the time — Kolb continued playing — but gave Kolb a concussion that could be career ending, according to the Buffalo News.
On Monday, Jenkins said he regretted the hit, but acknowledged there was little he could do to avoid it.
“It was very disturbing, but we all kind of realize it’s a part of the business,” he said. “Every guy that plays this game realizes it comes with the territory.”
Jenkins said he can’t let the fear of injury change the way he approaches the game.
“You just have to play ball,” he said. “You can’t let things like that get in your head, because that affects your play.”