Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan loves to use misdirection to keep everyone guessing. Now he's doing it even when he's speaking candidly.
First Shanahan says that no one knows whether Robert Griffin III will be ready until the quarterback steps on the field during training camp. Thank you -- that's as simple as it gets.
You would think that means slow and steady does it, that maybe Griffin isn't already penciled in as the Week 1 starter. But then Shanahan tells the NFL Network that "[Griffin will] set a record for coming back because that's how hard he works."
That means Griffin could start the first week, right?
But then Shanahan tempers it by saying he's only hoping Griffin will be ready. So that means Kirk Cousins or even Rex Grossman may open the season?
Pass the aspirin.
It's easy to overanalyze Shanahan's sporadic quotes on Griffin. The coach uses deception better than anyone I've covered in 35 years. Shanahan tips absolutely nothing, so when he does show a corner of one card, you have to be wary it's a trap.
When the NFL schedule is released next week, the Redskins' first four opponents will spend extra time watching Griffin on film, which is exactly what Shanahan wants. Let opposing coordinators waste time on someone who may not play rather than Cousins or Grossman.
And why is Grossman even a consideration? If Griffin's not ready and Cousins gets dinged in the preseason, your 2011 starter is back. Can't wait to hear the FedEx Field crowd during that pregame introduction. The defense will be announced that week for sure.
It has been an interesting offseason as far as Griffin's rehab. The media haven't had access to him, which is normal this time of year. Dr. James Andrews keeps declaring Griffin is Superman, which is just strange. Doctors don't talk about rehab, but somehow Andrews is pushing this extra hard. Makes me wonder.
Shanahan sounds more optimistic each time he's asked about Griffin, which is whenever he talks. Maybe Shanahan's trying to convince himself the franchise's best player will be ready. Maybe he's trying to confuse opponents instead.
Griffin is rehabbing at Redskins Park and tossing balls to a circus elephant, so it sounds like he's doing fine. As long as we don't see cell phone video of him playing pickup basketball, it's all good.
There's no doubt Griffin will rehab as hard as possible, but the body heals as fast as it wants. That he's young should make his recovery faster, but there's no value in overdoing it and creating chronic knee problems. That happens all the time with players. They need someone to ensure their competitiveness doesn't compromise their recovery.
Meanwhile, just keep looking for double meanings and rare insight into comments about Griffin. Maybe he's really Superman. We won't know until September.