Shanahan sits RG3; Cousins will start for Redskins

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — It takes quite the sales job to explain why a medically cleared Robert Griffin III won’t play for the rest of the season.

Embattled Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan realized that and gave it his best shot Wednesday, speaking passionately at times in a 28-minute news conference that included references to the team’s “circus atmosphere” and insistences the move isn’t a ploy to get himself fired.

The upshot is Griffin will be the inactive third quarterback for the Redskins’ final three games, behind starter Kirk Cousins and backup Rex Grossman. Shanahan’s reasoning is he fears Griffin, who has taken a pounding in recent weeks, will get hurt, and that would ruin the franchise player’s offseason — a reversal of Shanahan’s oft-stated position Griffin needed as much game experience as possible and would play to the end of the season.

“You’ve got to take a look at the risk and reward,” Shanahan said. “And with Robert I thought that his hits were piling up on him, giving him his toll, and I was afraid that we would set him back.”

Griffin, who publicly clashed with Shanahan at times this year, clearly wasn’t happy with the decision. He gestured, shrugged and shook his head throughout his turn at the podium, and he declined to answer when asked if he believes Shanahan’s rationale for the benching, saying: “At this point, I just have got to leave it up to Coach.”

“I expressed my desire to play,” Griffin said. “Of course, I want to be out there and finish the season with my guys, see it through. He explained to me his reasoning, and at the end of the day Coach’s decision is what we go with.”

Asked if he’d rather play for a different coaching staff next year, Griffin said: “I think that’s the general misconception, that players in our locker room want people gone.”

Still, the move only serves to stoke the turmoil surrounding the Redskins (3-10) in general and Shanahan in particular. The team has lost five straight, giving the coach his third season of double-digits losses in four years in Washington. It appears increasingly unlikely he’ll return for the final year of his five-year, $35 million contract.

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