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Griffin III: 'My Eyes Are Set On Philly"


In every press conference for the last four months, Redskins quarterback Robert Grififn III has delivered some sort of headline-driving news.

In May, it was news that he had been cleared to run, with a goal of suiting up for Week 1 of the regular season.

In June, it was news that he was cleared to sprint and cut and would like to practice Day 1 of training camp, with a goal of suiting up for Week 1 of the regular season.

In July, it was news that he had been cleared to practice with the team in a limited role, with a goal of suiting up for Week 1 of the regular season.

In August, it was news that he had full clearance to practice, with a very determined goal of suiting up for Week 1 of the regular season.

And then yesterday, it was just a reiteration that he would be ready for Week 1 of the regular season, as he had known since January and had been telling the media since March.

"I feel good. I am confident," he said from the podium at Redskins Park. "Coach [Mike Shanahan] easing me in has helped, and then giving me the extra reps has also helped now. This week's the time to get prepared.

"My eyes are set on Philly and watching this team develop."

Every part of his recovery process has been probed and analyzed, then twisted and rehashed until the next press conference.

The media has delved into every medical angle of the recovery process, then inventing and resolving internal conflict to fill the void. Not only has Robert Griffin III become the most physically scrutinized athlete in the world, but also the most psychoanalyzed.

It is attention that the sophomore quarterback accepts under the miscropscope of success, but that doesn't mean it isn't frustrating for him, his coaches and teammates.

"It sucks, and that's why I had to come out and make that statement [last week]," Griffin III said bluntly. "Do I stop being who I am, stop being honest with you guys and giving you guys ammunition to turn against this team? Or do I just go into a shell and 'Bill Belichick it' all week?

"I'm just going to continue to be who I am. If something like that does happen, you make the statement and make sure everybody gets it cleared. But I don't think I can change who I am, just because people are going to take my words and put them against me."

So Robert Griffin III and his coaches continue to execute the plan put in place by team doctors early in the process. Everyone wants to see him back on the playing field, and the hierarchy for making the final clearance has been established.

"That's Coach [Shanahan] and Doc [Dr. James Andrews]," Griffin III said with a shrug. "I don't have any say in that. My say is what I do on the field, what I've done all offseason.

"The leg looks good, looks strong, movement looks fine. I'm happy about that. I've done everything I can. Like I said, can't say it enough times, this is all I can do and I have to leave it in their hands to go from here."

At this point, he will not be reassessed for clearance until after the fourth preseason game, which eliminates his chances of playing before Week 1.

The once-hypothetical scenario of entering Week 1 without preseason play is becoming a very real possibility, and one that Robert does not shy away from or downplay.

"For me, I can lean on last year's game experience to prepare me for this season. I don't need the preseason to get ready because they're not going to let me play in the preseason," he said. "If I think I won't play well without the preseason, then I'm not going to go out there and play well.

"It's just a mental thing, a mental game you have to play with yourself. Like I said, I don't feel like I need it to make sure I'm ready to go. There's no excuses when it comes to that."

Between now and whenever Robert Griffin III receives medical clearance, he is responsible only for preparing himself to play football. And rather than begrudging the process, Griffin III has the perspective to enjoy his time back out on the field.

"I get to go out there, go against the defense, go against Fletch [linebacker London Fletcher], 'Rak' [linebacker Brian Orakpo], all those guys, [linebacker Ryan] Kerrigan. That's always fun," he said. "We'll ramp it up but I'm getting the team reps, and that's what I wanted.

"That's what the team needs me to be out there doing, and we feel good."

Head coach Mike Shanahan told the media Griffin III practiced against the team's top defenders on Wednesday, a step up from the scout team defense and the next step in his road to recovery.

"We had a couple of periods today where we went against our defense," Shanahan said. "Robert was involved in going against our defense like he would in OTAs or any type of minicamp or summer camp, and he did a good job."

Seeing as Griffin III will not be cleared until the regular season, Shanahan said he is fine with the preparation Griffin III receives in practice to get him ready for game speed.

"There's a fine balance in evaluating players, getting players ready," he explained. "I really believe that if you can put guys in full-speed type practice, you can get them ready for the regular season.

"It happens a lot of times, mostly because of injuries."

As he has throughout the process, Shanahan prefaced any timetable with the possibility of setbacks pushing back final clearance. With the regular season still more than two weeks away, there is plenty of time for the circumstances to change completely.

In the meantime, all parties are content to take the process one day at a time.

"Today was the first day we've had him in team situations going against our defense full-speed, game situations," Shanahan said Wednesday. "Everybody needs those reps and that's why we're going to do it for two weeks before we get in our game week against Philly.

"It was part of our game plan in getting Robert ready and we've got a couple of weeks to go. I like where he's at right now and the key is not to have a setback.

"If he can keep on progressing like he has been, he'll be ready for Monday night."




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