Operation should reveal whether he also tore ACL

Robert Griffin III will undergo surgery to repair his torn lateral collateral ligament. And that's when the real issues might begin.

When Dr. James Andrews operates on Griffin's right knee later this week, he also will need to determine the extent of damage to Griffin's other ligaments, notably the ACL. Multiple reports stated that Griffin tore his LCL, but any damage beyond that has yet to be determined.

What the doctors find could determine whether Griffin plays in 2013. Under normal circumstances, a torn ACL would sideline an athlete for seven to 12 months.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said Monday that multiple doctors looked at Griffin's MRI from Sunday night and could not agree on what they saw, whether any tears were new or old. That's why Griffin is in Pensacola, Fla., visiting Andrews.

Griffin initially suffered a Grade 1 sprain in his right LCL on Dec. 9 in a win over Baltimore.

"You never see an LCL tear without other ligaments torn also. It just doesn't happen. It's just not the way the knee works," said Dr. Dan Pereles, an orthopedic surgeon for Montgomery Orthopedics who also was a volunteer to the U.S. Olympic Committee. "It's highly unusual."

If doctors do find another ACL tear -- Shanahan said after Griffin's December injury that the ACL was fine -- that will make it tough on Griffin. He already had reconstructive ACL surgery in 2009. It obviously also would depend on how bad the tear is.

"The more times you do it, the less successful each time you come back," Pereles said. "I'm not saying you can't come back, but the [ligaments] tend to be looser. That's just looking at the overall picture. Not every player is that way."

Griffin reinjured his knee in Sunday's 24-14 loss to Seattle. He hurt it in the first quarter when he rolled to his right and then tried to throw back across his body. Griffin stayed in the game until 6:25 remained when his knee buckled as he reached for an errant snap. Shanahan told NFL Network on Tuesday that after watching the game again that Griffin perhaps hurt it on the previous play in which he was sacked.

Much of the optimism surrounding the Redskins stems from Griffin's presence. Losing him would be a big blow to a team coming off its first playoff appearance since 2007. With Griffin, the Redskins again will be viewed as NFC East contenders. If he can't play and Kirk Cousins has to start, they will be viewed differently. Cousins led Washington to a 38-point outing in a win at Cleveland. But he lacks Griffin's dynamic game.