Mike Shanahan high on Robert Griffin III's work ethic, recovery
With the Washington Redskins' latest week of organized team activities in the books and training camp in the not-too-distant future, head coach Mike Shanahan already knows that the stakes have been raised and expectations are higher in 2013.
Repeating as the champions of the NFC East after a surprising 10-6 season and a trip to the playoffs may sound simple, but Shanahan has been around the NFL for long enough to know that the difference between one season and the next is like night and day.
"You get a win, and every time you win, people get confidence, especially the players," Shanahan says.
However, one of the wins his team didn't get in 2012 was the one they needed most - a 24-14 NFC Wild Card loss to the Seattle Seahawks, a game in which quarterback and NFL Rookie of the Year Robert Griffin III went down with a severe knee injury.
Griffin continues to recover from surgery to repair his ACL and LCL, and as he works his way back to full strength, his coach says that he expects nothing less than what he's already seen - a willingness to do whatever it takes to get back on top. That'll take facing something he has already seen when it comes to recovering from an injury - adversity.
"He really hasn't had any failure," Shanahan said of his star quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner. "That's unusual for a guy to have the success he's had at all different levels. You want him to keep having success. That's the key.
"Part of that key is working like he does. There are no shortcuts; he has an unbelievable demeanor about him where he can handle the press and handle pressure, and it seems like he always says the right things."
In his first meeting with the press earlier this week, Griffin admitted to being tremendously upset in the immediate aftermath of his injury and subsequent surgery. Once he got past that, though, his mindset immediately shifted to wanting to be ready for the Redskins' Sept. 9 opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Shanahan has no doubt that once Griffin is back, he'll be the Griffin everyone in the football world was dazzled by in 2012.
"When a quarterback...or anybody...gets injured, in the first couple of weeks, it's devastating," he said. "But when people are workers like Robert, he's going to do everything he can to get back to where he was. I feel strongly he is going to come back full speed."
During the course of the team's OTAs this past week, Griffin said that he's being "patiently aggressive" about his rehab and the upcoming season. What Shanahan infers from that is Griffin knows he has the potential to use his set of skills at any given moment; it's just now about choosing the right time to so.
"He knows he has great speed, and he knows with his ability he can make a run like he did (against) Minnesota," Shanahan said. "He can outrun defensive backs and linebackers. Not many quarterbacks can do that.
"If he knows he can outrun someone, he's going to outrun them and get the big play. But when he says he's patient, he knows he's going to take a big shot and slide earlier than he did a year ago."
Despite the optimism surrounding Griffin, his recovery and his team as a whole, Shanahan is taking it step-by-step. He doesn't feel obliged to play Griffin in one of the team's four preseason games. Moreover, he knows that Griffin still has to get cleared by doctors by the time training camp gets going in Richmond on July 25.
"If he is ready to go, we will judge him on how he practices," he said. "He has to show us in practice that he's 100 percent and there's no chance of a setback. We can't take an opportunity to take him back too quickly."
ABC7's Justin Karp contributed to this report.