RG III not concerned about knee

Updated: September 5, 2013, 12:10 PM ET
By John Keim | ESPN.com

ASHBURN, Va. -- Robert Griffin III never had any doubts. Now he doesn't have any concerns.

He'll need to manage his emotions. He'll need to shake any rust. What he won't have to do, at least in his mind, is worry about his surgically repaired right knee.

Griffin will start the Redskins' season opener Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles, exactly eight months after undergoing major surgery. The Redskins kept saying Griffin would play if there were no setbacks.

The week of the game has arrived without any setbacks.

He was officially cleared medically last week by Dr. James Andrews in Tampa. Griffin was part of a conference call during the weekend to discuss what coach Mike Shanahan said were concerns by Andrews. Griffin wouldn't divulge what those were.

"We'll keep that between us," Griffin said. "The bottom line is I'm ready to go. They're confident in what I can do, and we'll go out there and play.

"Play like you were never gone. That's what every guy who comes off an injury has to do."

Nor is Griffin apprehensive about taking his first hit. He's been through this before, having torn his ACL at Baylor in 2009 and playing in only three games that season. That experience helped prepare him for this one, he said, knowing what to expect when he returns.

Getting hit was one of the lessons learned. In his first game back, he remembers getting hit on a first-quarter scramble and not giving it a second thought.

That's what Griffin anticipates Monday.

"It'll feel good," Griffin said. "You will get hit when you play the game. I don't worry about it. It's what we get up every morning to do. We enjoy it. I'm not afraid of it. I'm not really anxious about it. Just go out there and play.

"Your adrenaline's running, so you usually don't feel the hits until the next day anyway. So we'll see how I feel the day after."

Griffin's journey has been a rather public one. There were motivational tweets. There was rehashing of the playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks -- should the coaches have removed him? Should he have been more honest about how bad he was injured?

There were rehabilitation milestones and a constant stream of quotes that said the same thing: He's ahead of schedule. Monday will complete that journey.

"It's going to be tough," Griffin said of containing his emotions before running onto the field. "There won't be any tears. If there are, there will be tears of joy. It's been a long journey. It's been an adventure. It's been fun.

"You don't necessarily want to go on the journey I had to go on in the offseason, but you try to enjoy it along the way and hit those milestones. So to come out of that tunnel with the team will be a great moment only for me, for the fans, my teammates who have seen me work as hard as I have this offseason. They'll be there to help me manage my emotions. I told them I'll need them for that because it's going to be tough to know how to feel in that moment."

His teammates never doubted his return.

"We knew the person he was and he wants to be out there," cornerback DeAngelo Hall said. "Besides cutting his leg off or injuring [him] long term, he was going to be out there with us. It's nice to have that pressure off him."

But Griffin does know what he'll do when he scrambles (at least some of the time, that is). Griffin ran the ball 120 times -- a mixture of zone-read runs, draws and scrambles. His three injuries last season all occurred at the end of scrambles: a concussion against Atlanta, the initial tear of his LCL against Baltimore and as he rolled out against Seattle.

When asked how soon he'll reach the point where sliding becomes second nature, Griffin said: "Monday night. I mean, you guys have been talking about it to me for eight months. It's ingrained in my head now. I'll be getting down Monday night.

"I just know I have to be safe, slide, but still play fearless. I'm not going to go out there and play scared. That's just not the way to play."

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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