RICHMOND, Va. — For Robert Griffin III, it’s “new phase, new hair” — and a same old test of wills with Washington head coach Mike Shanahan that becomes more intriguing every week.
The Redskins quarterback said he’ll be getting his first 11-on-11 training camp drills on Tuesday in his return from reconstructive knee surgery, and that he still doesn’t like nor fully understand the restrictive practice regimen he’s been given by Shanahan.
“No, I don’t like it,” Griffin said Monday at his weekly news conference. “And there’s some part of it that I do understand. I don’t understand all of it. But at the end of the day, he gave me his word privately. ... When you give your word to somebody, that’s all you have. So I’m just banking that they’re going to stay true to their word and I’m staying true to mine. I’m doing everything they ask me to do without any gripes, other than with you guys.”
Asked to elaborate, Griffin said the practice plan was “fixed” ahead of time without any regard as to how his knee was progressing in rehab. He’s going along with the plan as long as it leads to him starting in the regular season opener on Sept. 9.
“Like Coach said — he’s 100 percent right — I don’t have to understand it,” Griffin said. “I don’t have to like it. But at the end of the day, if he plays me Week 1 and I’m ready to go, then I’ll give him a salute and I’ll go play my butt off for him.”
Shanahan has allowed Griffin to run 7-on-7 drills in practice but not the full 11-on-11s, saying that the unpredictability of those plays could lead to sudden movements that could reinjure Griffin’s right knee. But Griffin said his knee is fine and that he hasn’t had any soreness or swelling.
Shortly after his news conference, Griffin took to Twitter to clarify his comments.
“There is no friction,” he tweeted. “There is an understanding between coach and player. That is all. Don’t have to like everything”
Sporting cornrows instead of his usual dreadlocks — a major change in look for the face of the franchise — Griffin took more snaps than usual during the morning walkthrough and said he was looking forward to being “a football player” again during 11-on-11s on Tuesday.
“New phase, new hair. ... Been ready for it. It’s just a matter of time,” Griffin said. “I don’t think it’s a huge step. I just think it’s time to get back out there with my teammates. I’ve proven I can protect myself, and I’m dang near close to 100 percent. I feel good, and now I’m glad that Coach feels the same way.”
Griffin is so anxious to play that he suited up in full pads for last week’s preseason opener even though he knew he wouldn’t take the field. He said he is still lobbying to play in the third preseason on Aug. 24 against the Buffalo Bills.
“Let’s get that straight: I want to play in the preseason,” he said. “Coaches are saying if things go great these next couple of days and next week, then maybe. But it’s a hard ‘no’ right now. It’s my job to make that a soft ‘no’ and possibly a ‘yes.’ I’m definitely going to push for it.”
The push and pull between coach and quarterback has been an issue since the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in January, when Griffin clearly reinjured his knee yet remained in the game. He didn’t want to take himself out, and Shanahan left him in until the knee finally gave out.
“We ironed that out. There’s definitely a trust there. He’s expressed regret,” Griffin said Monday. “Everybody had a little error in what happened in that situation. We’ve addressed it. We moved on. And this is part of the moving on process. I have to be patient.”
Shanahan was scheduled to address reporters later Monday.