By Chris Burke
January 07, 2013

Robert Griffin IIIRobert Griffin III left Sunday's game for good after twisting his knee in the fourth quarter.
Dick Druckman/AP


That's when, according to Redskins coach Mike Shanahan, quarterback Robert Griffin III will be examined by the famed Dr. James Andrews to determine how severely Griffin injured his troublesome right knee during Washington's playoff loss to Seattle. If the Washington Post is accurate, Redskins fans ought to prepare for the worst.

The Post reported Monday that Griffin "suffered possible partial tears of his anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments." The follow-up exam on Tuesday will determine if those injuries are new or related to prior ailments -- Griffin tore the ACL in his right knee while playing for Baylor, and he injured the LCL just a few weeks back against the Ravens.

Should Andrews discover that Griffin did more damage Sunday, when his leg buckled while he tried to recover a fumble, the ramifications could be costly for the Redskins.

Already, per the Post report, the possibility exists that Griffin will require exploratory surgery to determine the extent of damage. At this point, nothing has been ruled out, including reconstructive surgery.

Such a serious procedure is no longer the career-ending threat that it would have been just a few years ago. Adrian Peterson, as NFL fans are well aware, returned from a devastating knee injury suffered last December to star this season.

Shanahan even referenced Peterson's recovery during his newsconference Monday -- which some took as a hint at the severity of Griffin's injury.

Griffin said following Sunday's game that "it's up in the air right now" if he had injured his ACL again; when he first went down this season, after a hard hit from Baltimore's Haloti Ngata, the Redskins' rookie said, "It shouldn't be an ACL -- I know what that feels like."

With serious ligament damage, even an accelerated recovery like Peterson's would put Griffin's status for the start of the 2013 season in jeopardy. And that's if the Redskins want to push the envelope with their franchise player.

The results of Tuesday's exam could increase heavily the responsibilities for another rookie QB, Kirk Cousins. He delivered a win in relief of Griffin against Baltimore, then helped the Redskins take down Cleveland for a key win.

There was a little buzz that Cousins could be dealt this offseason to a QB-needy team like Arizona or Kansas City. Griffin's knee issues probably take any of those possibilities off the table.

No matter what the prognosis is for Griffin now or when he gets back on the field, the Redskins may be forced to reevaluate their game plan for him. Continuing to encourage Griffin to slide and get out of bounds when possible is step one, but a great deal of Washington's current offense revolves around RGIII's ability to beat defenses on the ground.

That strategy, however, exposes him to more shots downfield -- a reality that grew more and more problematic for Washington as the 2012 season wore on.

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