Robert Griffin III, Tyrone Crawford
Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Bulls star Derrick Rose have one thing in common: They have the nation’s most talked-about knees since Tim Tebow last celebrated a touchdown.
But unlike Rose, Griffin didn’t experience soreness in his surgically repaired knee after returning to his sport.
“It’s a blessing,” Griffin said Wednesday. “Every knee injury and surgery is a little bit different.
“It’s not a shot at anyone else if they come back and have soreness.
“It’s just how their body reacts to it, and I was blessed to not have any soreness.”
Griffin’s pain comes more from his team’s record — 1-4 — and whispers that he’s not what he was last season.
He has five interceptions and three fumbles, as many as he had all last season. His completion percentage and quarterback rating are way down.
“You can’t let anybody steal your joy,” Griffin said. “There are going to be times when you have to learn from things and be willing to learn.”
He’s learning a new way to play because the Redskins are wary of jeopardizing his right knee, which underwent surgery Jan. 9 to repair a partially torn lateral collateral ligament and to stabilize an anterior cruciate ligament torn in college.
Griffin showed flashes of his dynamic self last Sunday and said he knows he has to “play freely.”
Rested after a bye and perhaps motivated by Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr saying he was not the same, Griffin gained a season-high 77 yards on nine carries in Dallas.
“I think he’s very close to being back to where he was a year ago,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said.
Linebacker Jon Bostic said Griffin looks the same as last year.
“You can see the speed is coming back,” linebacker James Anderson said. “He’s still the same RG3.”
The Redskins hope Griffin can only improve.
“Anytime you come off an injury like that, a major injury, there’s a growing process that is natural,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “Especially for a guy in his second year in the National Football League.”
While the Cowboys and Bears play a similar cover-2 base defense, Dallas used man-to-man often against Griffin.
“Obviously, the caliber of the guys that Chicago has and has had [on defense] for a few years now is second to no one in the league,” said Griffin, who’s averaging 289.6 passing yards but has thrown only six touchdown passes. “So it’s going to be a challenge.”
The Bears think the same thing.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said, ‘‘a very gifted athlete, a smart quarterback. He can do it all.
“He looks like he’s full speed, so it’s going to be a huge challenge.”
Griffin has all the assets, defensive tackle Stephen Paea said.
“They don’t look like a 1-4 team,” he said. “If he wants to run the ball, he’ll run it.”