The Washington Redskins have benched quarterback Robert Griffin III for the rest of the season to safeguard the reigning rookie of the year from injury, the team said on Wednesday.
The struggling Redskins (3-10) have three games left in the 2013 National Football League season starting with Sunday's road contest against the Atlanta Falcons.
Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan expressed concern about the welfare of Griffin behind an offensive line that has allowed 24 sacks in the last five games.
"I think it would set him back so much if he got hurt and missed another off-season. I didn't think the risk/reward was worth it," Shanahan told reporters during a news conference.
Kirk Cousins will start in place of Griffin against the Falcons, according to Shanahan.
Griffin, the number two overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft out of Baylor University, led Washington to the NFC East title last season with a 10-6 mark before injuring his knee in a playoff loss to Seattle that required off-season surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
This season the Redskins have slumped as Griffin, who used his running talents to great advantage in his stellar rookie campaign, has regressed.
After throwing 20 touchdown passes, five interceptions and rushing for 815 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in earning a trip to the Pro Bowl, Griffin has tossed for 16 TDs and 12 interceptions, and gained just 489 yards on the ground.