Robert Griffin III took the practice field at Redskins Park on Wednesday afternoon just as he has at the start of each week since the regular season began last month.
The Washington Redskins’ concussed quarterback wore his No. 10 gold practice jersey; gold being the color that designates a player prohibited from being contacted, as quarterbacks always wear. He performed position drills, as usual, handing off to running backs and throwing to receivers running various patterns.
His routine changed, though, once practice began. Griffin did not take as many repetitions as usual. And afterward, he underwent a series of concussion tests to ensure he remained asymptomatic. Trainers tested his balance by having him walk in a straight line, and they tested his memory by asking to him recall three things they told him moments before.
Griffin passed, and he remains sure he will play against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
“Practice went good,” Griffin said. “I felt sharp. I felt good. No symptoms of a concussion or anything like that. No dizziness or off-balance or things of that nature.”
Griffin won’t be cleared to play against the Vikings until he remains asymptomatic through Sunday morning, coach Mike Shanahan said. He is on track to play, though, because he has not experienced any symptoms since 15 minutes after he absorbed a blow to the head while scrambling in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.
When he does return to game action, Griffin vowed to make decisions that ensure his health and availability. No more taking on 260-pound linebackers when the reward for doing so is a yard or two that won’t affect the final result.
“The one thing I learned was I can’t do that to my team, to the fans or my family because life is more important than the game of football,” Griffin said. “These things that happen to us — getting hurt, getting hit in the head — that affects us down the road. I’ve got to make sure I limit that. I’ve got to make sure I keep myself safe while still being the same player that I am.”
Griffin had regained his senses and felt no effects of the concussion by the time he left the locker room Sunday, he said. Family members stayed at his house into Sunday night to keep him company and be sure he was OK. And his mother, Jacqueline, called him at 8 a.m. Monday to make sure he was on his way to Redskins Park, as he said he would be.
“She said she just wanted to hear my voice,” Griffin said. “That’s how moms are going to be.”
The group of those concerned about his well-being includes more than just family. Children who live on his street have slipped get-well notes under his door, he said.
“We don’t worry about whether he practices or not; we just want him healthy,” receiver Joshua Morgan said. “We don’t want him to try to rush back or nothing because this is about his life. Whenever you’ve got something like that that can affect you later on life, you just want him to take all the time he needs.”
Griffin would say he has had sufficient time. All the time with trainers and doctors is getting a bit old.
“The only symptom that I do have is irritability because they keep asking me the same questions,” he joked. “I respect them for it. They kept me out of the game even though, as they just told me earlier, I still refuse to say I had a concussion. I had temporary memory loss.”
Shanahan said Griffin did not take his normal share of practice reps, but he did take a “significant amount.” As he prepares to start Sunday’s game, he’s also trying to change his mindset in certain situations.
Throwing the ball away or sacrificing yards for his health goes against his competitive drive.
He watched video of the play on which he was injured and said he should have thrown the ball away or run out of bounds. That’s clear in hindsight, but what about on the field when split-second decisions determine whether he can walk back to the huddle for the next play?
“I ran out of bounds today at practice,” he said. “I imitated a slide and got a huge cheer from the team. It’s just something I have to make myself of aware of it, conscious. It’s not about being soft. I don’t have anything to prove to anybody.
“Everyone knows I’m a tough guy. I promised I’d get up from hits like that, and I did get up. I kept that promise, and I don’t have anything to prove. So it’s just about getting the yards, and if you have to live to play another down, then you live to play another down.”