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Status of Redskins' RG3 remains unclear

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Rookie practices, says he's feeling much better

ASHBURN -- The biggest question was not answered, though a number of little ones were. The Redskins' Robert Griffin III was on the practice field, throwing passes, jogging and displaying, as usual, an upbeat demeanor. It adds up to cautious optimism about Griffin's chances of playing at Cleveland on Sunday.

Griffin was limited in practice because of the mildly sprained right knee. He wore a brace -- as he would Sunday -- but he did participate in individual drills and, as usual, stayed after practice to throw extra passes. Though he appeared at times to push off his back leg gingerly as he threw, Griffin expressed confidence in that aspect.

During his nearly 13-minute news conference, Griffin declined to say whether he would play. Part of it is gamesmanship. Coach Mike Shanahan, when asked whether he would drag this out even if he already knew Griffin's status, said, "Probably."

"I don't want to give the Cleveland Browns a competitive advantage," Griffin said. "I don't want to let anybody down. I don't want to say I'll be playing and then end up not playing.

"I feel I can push through any kind of injury. Does that mean I'll play Sunday? Who knows? We'll see what happens. I want to be out there for those guys like I told them I would be."

He earlier had said that Sunday night he thought there was no way he could play vs. the Browns. By Monday he felt better. And by Wednesday he felt "really good about it."

"I'm the happiest guy in the world," Griffin said.

Shanahan said he learned long ago not to go solely on how players say they feel. So while he was pleased with what Griffin could do, Shanahan knows there's still a ways to go.

"I get a good gut feel if a guy can play or not," Shanahan said. "You look at him every day and how he's practicing in comparison to what he could do before when he was completely healthy. ... If he can't do it on the practice field, chances are he won't do it during the game."

Griffin still must show he can run and cut at game speed, considering how important his legs are to his game. And if he can't run and move, then he would be forced to stay in the pocket and risk further injury by being an immobile target.

All Griffin could compare it to was his torn ACL in the same knee, suffered in 2009.

"I've told many people I'm more than a runner, more than an athletic quarterback," he said. "But one gauge is will I be able to make instinctive moves without thinking about it. I couldn't do that in 2009 off the ACL. .... Can you make that explosive step? I was able to do that [Wednesday]."

Griffin said there wasn't much he would change about his second-and-19 scramble in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 31-28 overtime win vs. Baltimore. He was hurt when he hit the ground and his right leg flew up and was hit by defensive lineman Haloti Ngata following a 13-yard run.

His point: The play could happen to anybody. And, he said, it was different than the concussion suffered vs. Atlanta when he failed to get out of bounds.

"There's a lot of quarterbacks getting hurt that don't move around a lot," he said. "I don't look at it that way. I tried to get down. ... I'll make sure I continue to play safe, play the way I have and still be aggressive."

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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