LANDOVER, Md. – Kirk Cousins limped past Robert Griffin III’s locker, using crutches and wearing a stabilizing boot.
“He’s OK, people,” Griffin told the awaiting group of reporters.
He’d better be.
The Washington Redskins are running out of healthy quarterbacks.
With Griffin again a spectator as he works his way back from major knee surgery, the team’s insurance policy suffered an injury of his own.
The preliminary diagnosis says Cousins sprained his right foot in the second quarter of Monday night’s 24-13 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, although an MRI is scheduled for today to determine if it’s something worse.
“When I first did it, it didn’t feel like it was anything serious,” Cousins said. “It feels almost like a sprained ankle, just in the middle of my foot.”
Injuries – including one to Steelers rookie running back Le’Veon Bell – penalties and turnovers dominated a mess of a game, although Griffin once again upstaged the proceedings before the first ball was kicked.
He dressed in full uniform for the second straight game even though everyone knew he wasn’t going to play.
And his surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, chatted with owner Dan Snyder and general manager Bruce Allen on the sideline while Griffin was warming up.
Griffin has been pining to go harder in practice and to play in a preseason game, publicly disagreeing with coach Mike Shanahan’s more cautious plan.
But Shanahan said it’s Andrews who has to give the thumbs-up for Griffin to play, and the target date for the quarterback’s return remains the regular-season opener Sept. 9.
“He watched him out on the field. Then he brought him in and obviously checked him out,” Shanahan said. “It’s the first time that he’s checked Robert since we went to training camp, when (Andrews) approved that he could practice. He felt very good about his progress.
“But, again, he’s going to come back in a couple weeks after our preseason’s over, re-evaluate him again, and then he’ll give us the `Yea’ or `Nay.”’
Wearing a bulky black brace on his right knee, Griffin walked onto the field well before kickoff wearing a white T-shirt with the words “OPERATION PATIENCE,” his ad hoc theme throughout training camp.
At one point, he walked over to the sideline and gave Snyder a hug. Griffin smiled and laughed frequently during the game and even exchanged a high-five with Andrews.
“He says everything looks good,” Griffin said during the ESPN broadcast. “We’ve just got to keep going from here.”
Cousins started and went 2 for 3 for 19 yards before he got injured the same way Griffin did during a game last season – while getting tackled at the end of a run.
He grabbed his right foot after being dragged down along the sideline by linebacker Lawrence Timmons and was examined by Andrews before walking to the locker room.
Bell’s injury appeared similar to Cousins’. The second-round pick, who was supposed to have the inside track on the up-for-grabs Steelers running back job hurt his right foot in the first quarter, another injury to go with the sore left knee that kept him out of Pittsburgh’s preseason opener.
The Steelers were so eager to see what Bell could do that they gave him the ball on the first four offensive plays of the game. The ex-Michigan State back gained 4, 3, 1 and 1 yards, left the game and never returned.
Trainers for both teams stayed busy.
Steelers fullback Will Johnson left with a rib injury and running back Baron Batch had a stinger, although coach Mike Tomlin indicated that neither injury was serious.
Redskins defensive tackle Barry Cofield broke a bone in his right hand, but should be able to play with a cast. Receivers Aldrick Robinson (bruised left thigh) and Leonard Hankerson (bruised right knee), and running back Keiland Williams (strained left knee) were also among the ailing.
The hands-down star of the game was Redskins linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who made a juggling interception of a screen pass from Ben Roethlisberger and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.
Later, Kerrigan stripped Roethlisberger’s backup, Bruce Gradkowski, to force another turnover.
With Griffin and Cousins not available, veteran Rex Grossman took advantage of the extra playing time and completed 10 of 16 passes for 133 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The TD pass was 10 yards over the middle to Hankerson, who reached high to make a one-handed catch.
“I’ve been to a Super Bowl. Been to some big games,” Grossman said. “But every single time you’re out there, it kind of feels like the biggest game. I wanted to make sure I was able to capitalize on this opportunity.”
Roethlisberger completed 5 of 6 passes for 66 yards before giving way to Gradkowski early in the second quarter. The Steelers got their only touchdown in the fourth quarter when rookie Landry Jones hit Derek Moye for a 10-yard score.
Both coaches will have plenty of teachable moments from a game that included 15 penalties and seven turnovers, including a sequence of three giveaways in five plays.
“Too much Steelers beating ourselves,” Pittsburgh safety Ryan Clark said.
The other team felt the same.
“A lot of stuff we’ve got to clean up,” Washington left tackle Trent Williams said.