There was a major sigh of relief at Redskins Park Wednesday when Washington rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III practiced and showed no effects from a mild concussion.
Barring any unexpected setbacks between now and Sunday, Griffin will start against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.
”It’s a serious issue, but I felt fine when I left the locker room” after being injured in Sunday’s game against Atlanta, Griffin said. ”I went home, watched some TV and kinda just relaxed. I haven’t had any symptoms at all. Practice went good. I felt sharp. I felt good. No symptoms of a concussion: no dizziness or (feeling) off-balance. I feel right today. We’ll see what happens come Sunday.”
Against the Falcons, Griffin was hit by Atlanta linebacker Sean Witherspoon while scrambling on third-and-goal in a 7-7 game, which the Redskins’ lost 24-17.
Griffin, who did some cardio work and some throwing on Tuesday and will get evaluated every day before he’s cleared for full contact, joked that his only symptom is ”irritability” from continually being asked the same questions by the Redskins’ medical staff to see how he’s doing.
While Griffin, the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft, has been doing well since last Sunday, coach Mike Shanahan limited his participation in Wednesday’s practice – even though quarterbacks wear gold jerseys in practice in order to prevent them from sustaining contact.
”So far so good,” Shanahan said. ”He had a good practice today. I thought he performed well. Each day we’ll monitor him and if he feels good, we’re gonna go with him.”
Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier is preparing his team to face Griffin, but Shanahan said that despite the Heisman Trophy winner’s good condition Wednesday, he has to prepare for the eventuality that backup Kirk Cousins might make his first start against the Vikings.
Cousins, who relieved Griffin against Atlanta and threw a touchdown and two interceptions in his pro debut, took more of the practice snaps than the fourth-round pick did last week when he only threw passes as the scout team quarterback preparing Washington’s defense to face the Falcons.
”You gotta look at both ends of it,” Shanahan said. ”Something could happen tomorrow or the next day and you gotta be able to go; just like you do in a game when somebody takes all the repetitions during the week and you lose (him) on the first play, the person behind him has to be ready to go.”
Griffin, the NFC’s third-leading passer and its leading rusher among quarterbacks, said that he saw Weatherspoon coming as he ran towards the Atlanta sideline but didn’t react quickly enough to protect himself.
”If I had slid a half-second later, I’d been safe, but I tried to get down too late and he had already launched,” Griffin said. ”At that point, it was just a matter of absorbing the hit and I absorbed it the wrong way. I can’t do that to my team, to the fans or to my family because a life is more important that the game of football.
”These things that happen to us (affect) us down the road and I gotta make sure I Iimit that. I gotta make sure I keep myself safe while still being the same player I am.”
Veteran receiver Santana Moss believes that Griffin has learned his lesson.
”Once you take one of those hits or two, it’s evident,” Moss said. ”If it ain’t a play designed for you to run, save your body. I think he knows that. We all know that if you have nowhere to go, get out of bounds.”
The 22-year-old Griffin said that his teammates have assured him that he’s already proven his toughness by getting up from punishing hits dished out by St. Louis and Cincinnati defenders.
”I promised I’d get up from hits like that and I did get up,” said Griffin, who scored a touchdown after suffering a concussion last season at Baylor before being pulled from the game for good. ”I don’t have anything to prove. If you have to live to play another down, then you’ll live to play another down.”