Point-Counterpoint: Should RG3 play?

Point-Counterpoint: Should RG3 play?
December 14, 2012, 9:30 am
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3 and Out: Should RG3 play, the fumbling Morris

By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler
Redskins correspondents

The right knee of Robert Griffin III has been the subject of intense speculation and debate ever since the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata sent Griffin’s leg whipping in an unnatural direction while bringing him down after a fourth-quarter scramble. We still don’t know for certain if he can play against the Browns on Sunday. But if he can play, should he? Or should he take the week off to let his strained LCL heal for the final push to the playoffs and, hopefully, games in January?

Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir and blogger Rich Tandler debate the question in this week’s edition of Point-Counterpoint:

Rich Tandler: Of course he should play if he can. Now, let’s quickly define “can” here. If he has, say, 90 percent of his mobility and if there is no more than a minimal chance that he would cause further damage by playing on it, he can play. It’s Week 15 of the NFL season and virtually everyone out there is playing banged up to some extent. Trent Williams has been in there protecting Griffin despite a deep thigh bruise that has had him hobbled and in pain since early in the Dallas game. If Williams can soldier on through his injury, Griffin can, and probably will, do the same thing.

Tarik El-Bashir: I haven’t seen the MRI, and even if I had, I’m not a doctor. But I did see the unnatural way Griffin’s knee snapped, and I saw him limp out of FedEx Field on Sunday. Griffin may in fact be Superman, but even Superman’s knee wouldn’t be completely healthy just six days after it was stretched like a rubber band, especially after practicing on it Wednesday-Saturday, regardless of how much treatment he receives. I’m a low-risk person by nature, and if Griffin’s surgically repaired right knee is anything less 99.9-percent (which I suspect it will be at game-time in Cleveland) I would err on the side of caution and hand the keys to the capable Kirk Cousins.

Tandler: I'm unclear what they would be "saving" Griffin for if they sat him if he was able to go. There are three games left. Win them all and you're probably in the playoffs. Lose one and things get very dicey. Cousins may be capable but he was the 102nd pick in the draft for a reason and RG3 was the second pick for a reason. Griffin is better, much better. If the Redskins are going to make the postseason for the first time in five years, it’s going to be Griffin taking him there. He will have plenty of time to rest and rehab when the season is over. If he can go--again, that assumes that he is able to protect himself and that the knee brace will protect him from further injuring his knee--he has to go.

El-Bashir: Is it possible that Griffin will be 100-percent by kickoff? Of course. Is it likely? I’m not so sure about that. But I do know this much: having spent the past 15 years covering athletes at all levels, RG3 is going to do – and say – whatever it takes to get in the lineup. For better or worse, that’s how elite athletes are wired. A leading orthopedic surgeon told me earlier this week that it’s possible to return from a Grade 1 sprain of the LCL in seven days. He also said that if the ligament, which is critical to knee stability, is not back to normal strength, the joint is at a greater risk for re-injury. So, if the Redskins’ brain trust is the least bit concerned, they need to do the right thing for RG3 and the team: start Cousins and hand the ball to Alfred Morris. A lot.

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