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Jay Gruden: RGIII will be Redskins starter when ready

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Robert Griffin III returned to practice on Wednesday, taking part in individual drills alongside Washington Redskins teammates.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters that Griffin -- sidelined since Week 2 by a dislocated ankle -- "looked fine" and had "a little bounce to his step" in first on-field drills. Gruden then confirmed that Griffin will get his starting job back once he's cleared by team doctors and ready to return to action.

"Once they say he's healthy and he practices with us and we feel like he's ready to go mentally and we have a good game plan for him, then he'll be the starter," Gruden said Wednesday. "I don't know when that will be yet. It's hard for me to project. It could be one week, two weeks, it could be five weeks. I don't know yet."

"He looks good so far. He's making good progress as we knew he would, the type of worker he is. But making progress in the training room and making progress in the practice field are two entirely different things. We have to make sure he gets right both mentally and physically before he gets back on the field."

Gruden's proclamation ends any speculation that Kirk Cousins might retain the starting job once Griffin returns. As recently as Sept. 23, Gruden had left the door open for Cousins.

"Crazy things have happened in NFL," Gruden said at the time. "I'm not going to discount anything."

Cousins' recent struggles certainly played a role in Gruden's renewed support for RGIII. Cousins has lost all four games he's started this season and has nine turnovers, including eight interceptions. Cousins still has support in his locker room, but his issues protecting the football have hurt Washington and undoubtedly frustrated its coach.

"I think Kirk will play himself out of it," Gruden said Wednesday. "I have total faith that he will."

On the other hand, Gruden didn't rule out turning to third-stringer Colt McCoy if Cousins' struggles continue.

Said Gruden: "If things continue in this downward spiral, there's always a chance we could go to Colt."

Yes, the door is wide open for Griffin's return. The only question is when.

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