The question: When will that be?
Shanahan told NFL Network on Tuesday at the NFL Annual Meeting that he is unsure if Griffin will be ready to start the 2013 season. Shanahan said "the mindset going in" is to prepare as if Griffin will not be ready. He also said Griffin "will not come back until he's 100 percent."
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"You're hoping he's ready, but you can't plan for him to be ready," Shanahan said. "Kirk Cousins will work at the quarterback position. He'll have all the reps in the offseason. Robert will have a lot of reps, but it'll be mental (reps). It'll be in the film room, watching people on the practice field, doing his rehab. But you can get a lot done mentally, as well."
The Redskins spent a fourth-round pick on Cousins in last year's draft after selecting Griffin No. 2 overall. The backup quarterback closed out a Week 14 win over the Baltimore Ravens after Griffin left with a knee injury, then started in Griffin's place the following week, throwing for 329 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Griffin played the final two games of the regular season, but was unable to finish the Redskins' playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks. On Jan. 9, Griffin underwent surgery on his right knee, a reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament and repair of the lateral collateral ligament. Dr. James Andrews, who performed the surgery, told NFL Network last month at the NFL Scouting Combine that Griffin's rehabilitation "is way ahead of schedule so far. We don't have to do much but try to hold him back, if you want to know the truth."
Of Andrews' assessment, Shanahan said: "Well, as Dr. Andrews stated, he is ahead, but there's a process that takes time. Any time you deal with a knee or deal with ligaments, you can get the muscles stronger around it, but it does take some time. Robert will do it the right way, and we'll find out in July exactly where he's at."
Shanahan has told Griffin that he has to learn to avoid taking hits and to slide. But the coach does not plan to curtail Griffin's playmaking ability.
"I think when most people take a look at Robert, they're thinking, 'Oh, you can't run the option.' People don't realize that the option protects the quarterback," Shanahan said. "The thing I (have to convey to) Robert is when to slide, when not to take a hit. These quarterbacks are so competitive, but they don't realize sometimes how valuable they are to your franchise. So we're going to do what Robert does best and what he feels comfortable in doing. So when you take a look at an offense, and you grow every year, and you try and keep defenses off balance. And hopefully, we can continue to do that."
Shanahan said he sees Griffin rehabbing regularly at Redskins Park. "If hard work has anything to do with it, he'll set a record for coming back, because that's how hard he works," the coach said.
"Oh, he'll be at the 100 percent level (again)," Shanahan said. "The big question you just asked is 'when?' I don't think anybody knows that until he goes out on the practice field, and you can evaluate him on a day-to-day basis."
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