With his contract dilemma finally fully resolved at precisely the right moment, George Allen today leads 55 rookies, free agents and young veterans to Carlisle, Pa. and into his seventh training camp as head coach of the Washington Redskins.
On Thursday, the Redskins announced Allen had agreed to a four-year extension of his current contract. The Post reported he will earn about $250,000 a year, providing just the proper lift Allen likes to have going camp.
The joy of that event was muted for Allen and his family because of the death of Allen's mother Wednesday. Allen returned to Washington last night from funeral services in Albany, N.Y.
He is expected in Carlisele early this afternoon.
The Redskins head to camp with 15 players still negotiating their contracts. Two of them, middle line-backer Harold McLinton and tackle Tim Stokes, played out their options in 1976 and will not be allowed to come to camp until they sign.
The other 13 are on the option year of their contracts. If they don't sign, they automatically will receive a 10 per cent pay increase under terms of the recent collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the player's association.
Included among those 13 are quarterbacks Joe Theismann and Billy Kilmer, and starters Chris Hamburger, Len Hauss, Mike Thomas and Frank Grant.
Tim Temerario, Allen's executive assistant and the team's chief negotiator, said last night he still was talking to all the unsigned players and their agents, and may announce several signings today in Carlisle.
The Redskins will go through a full week of two-a-day practices, and the rookies will play the Baltimore Colt rookies Saturday in Annapolis. The remaining 55 veterans will report next Sunday.
Allen's no. 1 priority in camp will be to improve his defensive line, a process that will begin immediately.
The team's top draft choice, fourth-round pick Duncan McColl, will get a lot of work this week at right defensive end, as will young veterans Dallas Hickman and Karl Lorch.
No decision has been made yet on the status of veteran defensive end Verion Biggs, who would like to make a comeback after being cut by the Redskins and New Orleans Saints last year.
Torgy Torgeson, the team's defensive coordinator, said last night the club still had not signed Biggs and that "I doubt if he'll be in Carlisle Saturday. But George makes those decisions. As of now, Verion is not expected."
Kilmer and Theismann also are due in camp. Both have been working out all week at Redskin Park, along with free agent quarterbacks Brian Dowling and Jerry Trooien.
Theismann will make his annual run at Kilmer for the No. 1 job, though Allen keeps insisting the Redskins need both men for the long, grueling season.
Another major priority is an improved passing attack, and the return of veteran wide receiver Charley Taylor should help there.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Waller said this week that Taylor's presence in the lineup also will mean "tremendously improved" downfield blocking.
It's going to make John Riggins better, too," Waller said, "Last year, John got by the first defender 90 per cent of the time. With Charley down there blocking for him, I think Johns got a good chance to get 1,000 yards this year."