Sunday's victory over the Baltimore Ravens nearly came at a heavy price, as quarterback Robert Griffin III was felled by a scary collision with under two minutes remaining in the game.
Griffin III limped off the field, only to return one play later. After three plays, Griffin III grimaced in pain and called for the training staff, giving way to backup Kirk Cousins to finish the game.
Head coach Mike Shanahan revealed in his Monday press conference that Griffin III's injury was a Grade 1 sprain of the lateral collateral ligament (LCL) in his right knee--not an ACL injury, as feared.
"He's had some mild swelling. He had his right knee repaired--his ACL--in 2009. That looks great. No problem there," Shanahan said. "We'll evaluate it day-by-day and see how he is on Wednesday.
"By talking to him today, he felt pretty good. He's definitely not ruled out for the Cleveland game."
Griffin III has started all 13 games this season, but Sunday was the second time in which he was unable to finish the game.
Shanahan said that Griffin III would be fully assessed before returning to the practice field this week, and would likely need a brace for protection and support for the next several weeks.
"We did not know going into it if it was a Grade 1, 2 or 3. It's a Grade 1, so that was a good sign," he said. "You're hoping with rehab it gets better very quickly, but we don't know for sure. We'll have to go day-by-day and evaluate it day-by-day."
Shanahan and the coaching staff drew criticism after the game for sending Griffin III back into the game after only one play on the sideline.
Griffin III revealed after the game that he asked the coaches to put him back in and Shanahan had the blessing of renowned sports physician Dr. James Andrews, who cleared him to return.
"We had Dr. [James] Andrews on the sideline with us. He's the one that gives me the information," Shanahan recalled. "Dr. Andrews is pretty good. Not too many people have him on their sidelines, so we felt pretty lucky that he was there.
"After you get the clearance to put him back in, you're full speed ahead."
Griffin III completed two-of-four passes after returning to the game, but was visibly hobbled running the no huddle offense.
This time, everyone was on the same page for Griffin III to leave the game.
"After he threw that deep-over over the middle, you could tell there was something wrong," Shanahan said. "He started limping. Right at that time, I knew it was time to get him out."
Cousins finished the game, throwing a touchdown pass and running a quarterback draw for the two-point conversion. In overtime, Cousins led the offense into easy field goal range for the game-winning kick.
Looking ahead to Cleveland, Shanahan refused to name a starter but expressed his confidence in both players to do the job. This could also affect the gametime status of Rex Grossman.
"We're very fortunate to have all three of our quarterbacks that are very bright, extremely smart and excellent workers," Shanahan said. "They're doing what they need to do, both on and off the football field. If a guy goes down, they're going to be ready to go. That's what Kirk did. He's prepared himself for each game.
"In any scenario, I'd have complete confidence in him to go in and compete like he did. Until somebody does it when the pressure is on, you don't know for sure. I was really pleased with how he handled himself."
Shanahan said the coaching staff has game plans in place for both quarterbacks leading up to Sunday, with Griffin III getting the nod if he is healthy.
"We're going to do what we think is in Robert's best interest and usually when you do that, it's in the team's best interest as well," Shanahan said. "We're not going to put him out there if we think he's not completely healthy and he can't do the things to help us win. That's part of the evaluation during the week.
"Same thing with London Fletcher, same thing with Trent Williams: you can't put guys out there that you don't think is in the best interest of themselves as well as the football team. You've got to evaluate it and you don't know until the game."