Robert Griffin III evaded his pursuers a few days too late.
“I ran out of bounds today in practice and I imitated a slide,” the Washington Redskins quarterback told reporters at the team’s training facility on Wednesday. “(That) got a huge cheer from the team. It’s something I have to make myself aware of consciously. It’s not about being tough. I don’t have to prove that to anybody.”
Griffin said he hasn’t experienced any concussion-like symptoms — which included temporary memory loss — since immediately after he absorbed a hit from Atlanta Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon in the third quarter of Sunday’s game. He returned to practice, but hasn’t been cleared for contact.
The Redskins lost, 24-17, but that was almost an afterthought. Rather, the focus has been on why the reigning Heisman Trophy winner didn’t throw the ball out of bounds, run for the sidelines or slide on a play to avoid the blow to the head. Since he did none of the above, the rookie the Redskins mortgaged plenty to secure second overall in the draft isn’t certain to start Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field.
“He’ll learn for himself,” veteran Redskins receiver Santana Moss told FOXSports.com. “I don’t need, as a man, for you to tell me to do something. I know what I need to do myself. I experienced that and if I do it again, I’m just dumb. He’s far from that.”
Griffin was cleared to return to practice after he went through a few drills and some cardio on Tuesday. Since hitting quarterbacks in practice is off limits, anyway, basically all workouts are non-contact. Griffin took almost his full complement of snaps in practice, according to Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.
“He should be set to go, unless there’s a setback,” Shanahan said.
Griffin could be cleared as late as Saturday, Shanahan said. Griffin will undergo daily baseline tests in the meantime.
“For me, there is never really any doubt,” said Griffin, who also received a cut on his chin in the collision. “You always think you will be ready to play. (Redskins trainer) Larry (Hess) and the guys are doing their jobs. They are taking the proper precautions.
“The only symptom I have is irritability because they keep asking me the same questions. Other than that …”
Griffin is not only key to Redskins’ immediate success, but FOX Sports analyst and former NFL coach Brian Billick said it’s crucial to the future of the franchise.
“The bigger part of all this is his development,” Billick said. “You don’t want to miss a single snap and that’s not just for this season. You want him in on every snap, every play, this year because it’s going to pay off next year and beyond. This could really affect his growth rate as a quarterback if he misses any time.”
This was Griffin’s second documented concussion. He suffered one last season at Baylor as he absorbed a helmet-to-helmet hit against Texas Tech in November. He returned the next week and beat Texas, a fact that Griffin made sure to point out after practice on Wednesday.
With concussion lawsuits by former NFL players growing and the increased attention paid to brain injuries in sports, Griffin said he became reflective on his latest concussion — even though he, at the same time, added, “I still refuse to say I had a concussion.”
“It doesn’t make you any less aggressive, but it’s a lesson,” Griffin said. “One thing I learned I can’t do (this) to my team, the fans or my family. Life is more important than the game of football. These things that happen to us — getting hurt and getting hit in the head — those things affect us down the road. I have to make sure I limit that.”
He’s shown he could in practice. It’s a bit more difficult when he’s without the yellow jersey in a game, especially when Griffin’s competitive drive overrides his desire for self-preservation.