Dr. James Andrews (left) cleared Robert Griffin
III to play, only to express concerns about his usage. (Al Tielemans/SI)
UPDATE (3 p.m.): According to The Washington Times' Bruce McNally, Dr. Andrews is disputing ESPN's report. "Not true," Andrews reportedly told McNally via text. "Team will use [Griffin] appropriately. No concerns."
Robert Griffin III announced to the world Thursday night that he had been cleared to play by Dr. James Andrews, less than eight months after blowing out his knee in a playoff loss. Washington coach Mike Shanahan tempered the excitement a little bit, though, telling the Washington Post that Andrews had "a couple concerns".
Friday, ESPN's Trey Wingo reported via Twitter that "the 'concerns' about RGIII have less to do with health of the knee, much more on how the team plans to use him." Wingo's ESPN colleague added that Wingo also had been told "Dr. Andrews does not want Redskins to expose RGIII's knee to punishment during games."
This is ... confusing, to say the least.
If Griffin was indeed fully cleared to play in the regular season, then Andrews' reported comments about how the Redskins might utilize their QB would appear to be more suggestion than order. So does that mean that Andrews is concerned Griffin's knee cannot hold up under the rigors it went through last season?
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As for Andrews' hope that Washington will avoid exposing "RGIII's knee to punishment during games," well, good luck. Tom Brady's knee injury several seasons ago, which led to the NFL implementing a rule against tackling a quarterback low, occurred in the pocket on a simple drop-back. Even the most vanilla of offenses cannot guarantee that a QB will avoid the occasional big hit.
Odds are that Shanahan planned to reel in Griffin a bit this season anyway, in hopes of keeping him on the field for 16 games. Beyond calling less option plays or instructing Griffin to stay in the pocket longer, there's only so much the Washington coach can do.
Which brings us back to Andrews' comments. It is not out of the ordinary for a doctor to offer up post-surgery recommendations for avoiding further injury, athlete or otherwise. That may be all we're dealing with here.
However, if Andrews has substantial, lingering concerns about what Griffin should and should not do on a football field, that would not bode well for the Redskins. They need RGIII at his normal, healthy, creative best with the football in his hands.