"Robert [Griffin III] works so hard that if hard work had anything to do with the recovery, he'd set a record. That's the way he is...He's got a chance to do something special."
Those were the words of Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan on April 24, in his press conference leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft.
Given the severity of Robert Griffin III's injury and reconstructive surgery on his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and lateral collateral ligament (LCL), it would be reasonable to expect his absence from the lineup at the start of the season.
But one year removed from the miraculous ACL to MVP recovery of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, Griffin III told the media Thursday that there is a possibility he would be ready by Day 1 of training camp.
"Without a doubt," he said emphatically. "One, it is a mindset, and then two, it is just how I felt and how it's progressed. Over the last three weeks, I've had a lot of progress and I feel a lot better.
"I feel really good about that and the start of the season is even farther than that. I feel good about that and that's why I say without a doubt."
When OTAs began two weeks ago, Robert Griffin III had yet to be cleared for running and surprised members of the media when he was out on the back practice field throwing to some of his other injured teammates.
Less than a week later, he was cleared to run and was witnessed jogging back and forth across the end zone with rookie tight end Jordan Reed.
This week, Griffin III was able to increase the speed and distance of his runs, taking laps around the practice field with Reed for four days in a row.
"This week was a big week, going four straight days on the field. In previous weeks, we'd have a day off," he explained. "So to go the four straight, throwing every day, planting, cutting, doing the routes with the receivers, all of the guys kind of did a good job balancing the act for the four straight days.
"I've started throwing on the run a lot more, as you guys saw, doing a lot more plant throws out of the play action, the type of throws that we do in our offense. That's the encouraging part. I'm feeling more comfortable doing everything."
In addition to returning to physical form, Griffin III appears to be regaining his trademark confidence, smiling broadly at the podium and projecting optimism.
"The coaches are saying that I look a lot better. When they do get to sneak a peek in there, they say I look a lot more comfortable throwing the ball," he said. "I look relaxed and it shows.
"Of course, whenever the media is out here or fans are out here, you get a little extra juice, but I felt good today regardless."
Team doctors and specialists like Dr. James Andrews have consistently marveled at Robert Griffin III's progress, but have cautioned against pushing much harder than the seven to nine month timetable for a best-case-scenario return.
With that being said, Griffin III said his confidence is buoyed by the fact that his knee has responded well with the increased workload.
"That was the encouraging part today," he said. "To have those four straight days [and] to still feel good after those four days with no soreness is a good thing."
Head coach Mike Shanahan was somewhat less enthusiastic on Griffin III's availability for training camp, although he did not dismiss the idea entirely.
"You always want somebody to have goals, that's for sure. You want him to come back as soon as he is ready to go, but the doctors have got to OK him," Shanahan said. "From the beginning they have talked about the recovery time being anywhere from seven months to nine months.
"I think August 9 is seven months, and so we will just have to wait and see."
Griffin III told the media after OTAs on May 23 that when he awoke from his knee surgery, he put the date of the Week 1 game in his phone calendar as a goal.
Given his progress in recent weeks, Griffin III is confident that adjusting his goals to be ready for training camp is the natural thing to do.
"I think it is the right target if I'm healthy," he said. "I've talked to Coach. I've talked to the doctors. I've talked to [head athletic trainer] Larry [Hess]. I've talked to everybody that's close to me. If I am ready to go Week 1, then I play.
"If I'm not ready to go Week 1, then I can swallow pride and not play. It's that simple. If I feel like I'm ready to go and there's no doubt in my mind that I can play, then I'll be ready to go. But if there's an ounce of doubt or a minor setback then I won't play."