When a report emerged that Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III plans to return from a dislocated ankle in Week Eight against the Cowboys, a source with knowledge of the situation promptly said it was too early to know when Griffin would return.
The source suggested that Week 11 makes more sense, given that it comes after the bye week and entails a visit from the Buccaneers.
Coincidentally (or not), coach Jay Gruden recently hinted that Week 11 could be the date on which Griffin returns to action.
“I would guarantee Tampa, most likely, unless something happens between now and then,” Gruden told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday. “You’ve got a good bye week, you’ve got a couple weeks to make sure it’s ready. Obviously Robert is a quick healer. He works extremely hard in the training room. So the process could be sped up a little bit depending on how he feels.”
If the team learned anything from last year’s goofy “Operation: Patience” and “All In For Week One” mantras, it’s that real patience is critical to the healing process. Gruden wisely has tapped the brakes not by pointing at the scars of the Shanahan regime but by emphasizing the importance of practice reps to a quarterback’s ability to play.
“[T]he quarterback position is very delicate,” Gruden said. “You need your reps to play, and play successfully. You can’t just throw a guy out there without the reps, and the practice time, and the continuity with the receivers and the backs and the tight ends. So it’ll be a little bit of a process — probably a little bit more than people think — but we’ll play it by ear and see how he’s doing on a daily basis.”
In other words, it’s highly unlikely that Griffin will play in Dallas on Monday night, and nearly as unlikely that he’d play on a short week in Minnesota the following Sunday.
Waiting until after the bye gives Griffin more than three more weeks not only to heal but also to prepare. Which will help ensure that, when he plays, he’ll play at his best. Whatever his best may be.