Mike Shanahan, still for now Washington's coach, made a surprising reversal Monday 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 three 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 Washington (3-10) was embarrassed 45-10 by Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, a fifth straight loss that ensures a third season of double-digit losses in the coach's four seasons in Washington.
"You always want to come back. I love these guys," Shanahan said. "What'll happen at the end of the season, we'll get a chance, Dan and I, to sit down and decide he'll make the final decision on what's the best interest of the Washington Redskins. I'll give my opinion and what I think, and obviously he'll make the final decision."
Shanahan said he has a "good relationship" with Snyder and spoke with the owner on Monday. The coach didn't go into detail about the conversation other than to say it involved Griffin.
Around the league
Patriots • New England Patriots placed tight end Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve with a damaged right knee. Gronkowski was hurt midway through the third quarter of the Patriots' 27-26 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday when he was hit on the knee by safety T.J. Ward after a 21-yard reception. He suffered a torn ACL and damaged MCL, a person familiar with the injury said Monday. Gronkowski missed the first six games this season after forearm and back surgeries.
Broncos • Receiver 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 didn't rule out his receiver but said Welker's health is the top priority and he would go through the standard NFL protocol for players who have endured concussions.
Welker will be under more scrutiny because this is his second concussion since Nov. 17. Jacob Tamme would be a candidate to substitute for Welker as slot receiver.
Cardinals • Tyrann Mathieu's terrific rookie NFL season has come to a premature end. Arizona coach Bruce Arians on Monday confirmed Mathieu tore an ACL and sustained further damage in his left knee and will undergo surgery. Mathieu, who earned the nickname "Honey Badger" in his days at LSU, was injured returning a free kick after John Abraham had tackled Kellen Clemens in the end zone in the third quarter of Arizona's 30-10 victory over St. Louis on Sunday.
Jets • Cornerback Antonio Cromartie has a concussion and his status for the team's game against Carolina on Sunday is uncertain. Cromartie was injured in the Jets' 37-27 win over Oakland.