Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web…
• Robert Griffin III said Monday that "there's no doubt I'm playing Week 1," when the Redskins open the 2013 regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin's rehab from the brutal knee injury he suffered in the playoffs has been impressive thus far, and the Washington QB is expected to jump into the mix in 11-on-11 drills Tuesday for the first time in training camp.
Griffin also told reporters that he continues to lobby coach Mike Shanahan for preseason playing time:
Obviously, other than Griffin's frustration at not being able to play in August, this continues to be positive news for the Redskins. The only real surprise at this point, in all honesty, would be if Griffin were ruled out for the regular-season opener. All signs up through now have pointed toward him being able to play in that game, and the Redskins set the Sept. 9 date as the target from the get-go.
The Redskins do appear to be in good hands, should Griffin unexpectedly need extra time. Backup Kirk Cousins, who filled in admirably for Griffin in 2012, shined in the team's preseason opener
• Like the Redskins with RGIII, the Cleveland Browns are taking the slow-and-steady approach to getting star RB Trent Richardson back on the field after he missed previous offseason workouts with a shin injury. So far, so good with that plan.
"Oh yeah, 100 percent, ready to go, and Coach will let time heal and let time do what it does," Richardson told the Beacon Journal. "I’m with Coach and letting him tell me what to do."
Richardson added that he could have played in the Browns' preseason opener and that he wants to be in the lineup Thursday against Detroit. Whether head coach Rob Chudzinski and the training staff give him the all-clear is another matter. But what's important for the Browns is that Richardson, barring a setback in the coming weeks, should be able to suit up when the regular season rolls around.
• The outlook is less brilliant, though looking up, for another injured player. Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon was cleared to return to practice on Monday -- he had been rehabbing following offseason groin surgery.
The offseason has been a rocky one for the second-year receiver. He was hit with a four-game suspension in April for violating the league's PED policy, then had to be ushered off the Jaguars' sideline by teammate Maurice Jones-Drew during Friday night's exhibition game after Blackmon engaged Miami's Nolan Carroll in a heated argument.
Blackmon has some work to do to win back his teammates and coaches, especially since his suspension wiped away the remaining guaranteed money on his rookie contract, meaning the Jaguars could cut him without any financial hit.
• Chronic traumatic encephalopathy ("CTE," for short) has been pinpointed as a possible factor in the untimely deaths of ex-NFL players like Junior Seau, Dave Duerson and, most recently, Cullen Finnerty. Both Seau and Duerson took their own lives, then were later discovered to have been suffering from the degenerative brain disease, which has been linked in some circles to the brutal beatings players take in the NFL.
A recent Popular Science article is challenging that notion.
"There’s not sufficient evidence to justify the assumption that CTE exists at this point," Loyola University professor of neurology Christopher Randolph told the publication.
Randolph's findings were disputed within the article by Chris Nowinski, of the Boston University School of Medicine. Nowinski told Popular Science that Randolph's conclusion was "preposterous" and that the topic needs much more intensive study.
Given the dangerous nature of the game of football and the debilitating after-effects suffered by many retired players, there's little argument to be made against that last point.
• Chalk up another person in the "Please shorten the NFL preseason" camp. This time, it's Washington Post columnist Tracee Hamilton, who wrote that "[NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell has been talking reducing the preseason for years. It’s time to do something about it."
As Hamilton points out, shortening the preseason schedule has not been the problem so much as deciding how to handle the time created by a reduced exhibition slate. Expand the regular season to 18 games? Make training camp longer? Push the league year back a couple of weeks, so the preseason begins in mid-August?
In all likelihood, the NFL's answer would be to add regular-season games. If one of the main arguments for clipping preseason games is for player safety, piling on more meaningful games would do little to help there.