Santana Moss backs Mike Shanahan's decision to shelve Robert Griffin III

RICHMOND, Va. — Santana Moss put on his coaching hat, by request, for an instant Tuesday as he weighed in on the Washington Redskins' rehabilitating star quarterback, Robert Griffin III.

If Moss walked in Mike Shanahan's head coaching shoes, would he reverse course and grant RG3 his wish to play in a preseason game?

"I wouldn't do it," Moss told USA TODAY Sports. "No matter what he means to the team, I wouldn't do it. Being a guy that's all about players and the player that I'm considering, I'd have to talk to him because I know deep down inside that he wants to play.

"But he'd have to respect my authority for that decision."

RG3 is on track in his rebound from reconstructive surgery on his right knee and expects to hit another marker by participating in 11-on-11 drills for the first time this summer in Wednesday's practice ... though if RG3 had his way, he'd run 11-on-11s now.

Barring any setbacks, Shanahan reiterated Monday that the target date for his quarterback's return remains Sept. 9, when Washington opens the regular season against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Yet the eager Griffin has declared that he wants to play during the preseason — which Shanahan flatly ruled out at the start of camp and again Monday.

"I want to play, let's get that straight,' Griffin said during yesterday's press conference. "I want to play in the preseason. Coach is just saying that if things go great these next couple of days and next week, then maybe. But it's a hard no right now. It's my job to make that a soft no and possibly a yes. But I'm definitely going to push for it. I feel ready to go."

Maybe someone needs to send RG3 a memo.

There's no reason to risk a setback — and perhaps the season — by playing him in a meaningless preseason contest. For now, he should focus on working on the timing and rhythm with his offensive teammates.

Just ask Coach Moss.

"It's a tough situation to deal with as a coach, but Coach (Shanahan) has dealt with a lot this offseason about what he should have done or not done," Moss said, referring to Shanahan's decision to allow a hobbled Griffin to continue playing in the NFC playoff opener last January in which he tore the ACL in the already damaged knee after clearly struggling to move about the field prior to the final injury.

"I don't think he's going to let that get in his way this time."

Moss, a 13th-year veteran receiver, can also understand Griffin's side of the debate. RG3 is a competitive player, a tough football warrior.

Yet Moss also says Griffin needs to understand that no means no.

"As football players, we've got to abide by what the coaches want," Moss said. "As competitive players, we want to do a whole lot. And I know where Robert is. He's rare. I know it's hard, because he wants to go out there and get into that rhythm and flow. He wants to be sharp and phenomenal like he's going to be, anyway.

"He's special, but Coach has to be hard on him. You don't want that to be the cause of our season (falling apart) because you took one chance and let him play in the preseason because he wanted to."

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