MIKE SHANAHAN, still for now the coach of the Washington Redskins, made a surprising reversal yesterday and said he might bench a "100 percent" healthy Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season to keep the quarterback from getting hurt.
Shanahan essentially declared it might be more beneficial for Griffin to get offseason snaps in May rather than game experience over the next 3 weeks. The coach, for the first time, then explicitly left open the possibility that he might not return next year, saying his future will be decided after he meets with owner Dan Snyder at the end of the season.
Shanahan's departure appears more likely than ever after the Redskins (3-10) were embarrassed, 45-10, by Kansas City on Sunday, their fifth straight loss.
Shanahan said he has a "good relationship" with Snyder and met with the owner yesterday. The coach didn't go into detail about the conversation other than to say it involved Griffin.
"He asked me about my relationship with Robert," Shanahan said. "And I said I was his coach, his head football coach, and not necessarily his best friend, don't need to be his best friend. I want to make him the best quarterback possible."
A team spokesman said Snyder was not available for comment.
Nevertheless, Shanahan has increasingly appeared to be the odd man out in the triangle of owner, coach and quarterback. Shanahan and Griffin have publicly clashed this season, and Shanahan said he hasn't discussed the possible benching with Griffin and won't do so until after making a final decision tomorrow.
In discussing the reasons for sitting Griffin in favor of backup Kirk Cousins, Shanahan repeatedly pointed out that Griffin has been sacked 24 times in the last five games. He also noted that Griffin missed this year's offseason practices while recovering from major knee surgery, a reason often cited for Griffin's struggles.
The tension was palpable throughout Shanahan's news conference, which also included him debunking a report that he cleaned out his office in advance of January's playoff loss.
"It would take me 2 minutes to clean out my office," Shanahan said. "I've got two notebooks and I've got an iPad. When I hear different things like that, I just shake my head."
* Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson said he expects to play this week against the Eagles, after leaving Sunday's game against Baltimore on a cart with an injured right foot. X-rays revealed no broken bones, and Peterson said the medical staff has ruled out a Lisfranc injury. "Nothing is torn. That's always good," he said.
Quarterback Christian Ponder has passed his postconcussion tests and will be cleared to practice and play this week. Matt Cassel had a two-touchdown, turnover-free game against the Ravens, but Frazier said he hasn't decided who will start against the Eagles.
Also, right guard Brandon Fusco (knee), cornerback Xavier Rhodes (ankle) and tight end John Carlson (concussion) left Sunday's game with injuries, and starting tight end Kyle Rudolph was placed on injured reserve after missing 6 weeks with a broken foot.
* New England placed tight end Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve with a damaged right knee. A source said he suffered a torn ACL and a damaged MCL. Gronkowski was hurt in the Patriots' 27-26 win over Cleveland when he was hit on the knee by safety T.J. Ward.
* Arizona coach Bruce Arians confirmed that rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu tore an ACL and sustained further damage in his left knee in Sunday's win over St. Louis. He will undergo surgery. Arians indicated the injury was extensive and said he doubts Mathieu would be ready for training camp next year.
* Wes Welker is unlikely to suit up for Denver's game Thursday against San Diego after leaving Sunday's win over Tennessee with his second concussion in four games, coach John Fox said.
* Carolina backup running back Jonathan Stewart tore the MCL in his right knee in Sunday's loss to New Orleans and will be out a minimum of 10 days, coach Ron Rivera said.
* Detroit coach Jim Schwartz disagreed with the assessment of some Lions that they were soft on defense in the Eagles' comeback win Sunday.
"We missed a lot of tackles in that game and LeSean McCoy did a good job with the conditions and we didn't," Schwartz said. "I wouldn't put it on anything else. Players can characterize it any way they want, but when you say that word it becomes sort of an inflammatory word."