The talk of the Redskins' training camp today centered mostly on the surprise cut of fullback Willie Spencer and the club's decision to give up on middle lineback Greg Hartle for now.
But George Allen was too relieved over the return of defensive tackle Diron Talbert to practice to worry about all those raised eyebrows.
The worrisome lump that appeared on Talbert's chest last week and, as Talbert put it, "scared the hell out of me," has responded to treatment. And, though a little knot still remains in the area, Talbert was given permission to resume workouts and to play in Saturday night's preseason game against Miami.
"I've still got a little something in there," Talbert said, "but I'm very relieved. All the swelling is gone and all the pain is gone. I'll be a lot more relieved when this little knot dissolves.
"I've been taking an awful lot of penicillin, and I'll keep taking it. But it doesn't bother me at all. I've got the area pretty well padded, and I'm ready to get back to work. I've missed too much time already. Oh, yeah, I'm gonna' play this week.
Allen said, "If he can play, we'll play him in the game."
Hartle was one of seven men who will not play a game for the Redskins this season after being placed on the team's injured reserve list. Injured reserves can play for other NFL clubs if the Redskins decided to waive them, and Allen said he would give Hartle that opportunity "if that's what he wants."
Hartle was one of the Redskins' three major offseason acquisitions who had played out their options with other NFL teams in 1976. Another option playout, wide receiver Don Clune, was also placed on injured reserve today because of a broken thumb.
Hartle, who came from the Cardinals and was signed for $49,000, did not cost the Redskins compensation. His salary was just below the cutoff requiring teams to provide draft choice as payment to a man's original club.
The Cardinals were willing to let Hartle go because they believe his around. And they were right. Hartle has had the knee drained several times in training camp and has not been used much during practices the last few weeks.
Spencer, the bull-like fullback, did not have that option. He was placed on waivers along with 12 other men Tuesday afternoon, though the Redskins did not announce his cut until this morning.
"He's got great potential and he could probably play in the league," Allen said, hinting that Spencer's apparent disdain for playing special teams also cost him a job.
Spencer also had been outplayed on the practice field by the man in direct competition for backup fullback job, former Cardinal running back Eddie Moss, the third option-playout the Redskins signed in the offseason.
Moss made an impressive showing in the Cleveland game, ripping off a 10-yard gain in the Redskins' final game-winning touchdown drive. He had good hands, blocks well and, most important, can play on special teams.
In other developments today, the Redskins were playing musical bodies with the offensive line. Terry Hermeling and Tim Stokes were finally put back where they belong - Stokes at left tackle and Hermeling from left tackle to right guard - with the starting unit.
Hermeling celebrated the switch back to his preferred position with a stunning block on linebacker Joe Harris. On the previous play, Harris had clotheslined running back James Sykes.
Quarterback Billy Kilmer then called a sweep in Harris' direction and Hermeling pulled out and buried Harris with a crunching hit. "He deserved it," Hermeling said, smiling.
There was another familiar face Jake Scott began working out again at free safety. He had been hobbled the last week by a strained hamstring.
Scott said he tried to run hard on his leg today "and we'll just see how it is tomorrow. It felt pretty good."
But running back Mike Thomas was still not able to rejoin the workouts, though he did test his strained hamstring with a series of sprints on a running track.
"It's just not there yet," said Thomas. "It really bothered me when I tried to accelerate. I just hope it doesn't take any longer than another week. Without the speed, I can't do much"
Defensive tackle Curtis Atkins, with a sprained knee; defensive back Don Harris, bruised thigh; center Keith Eck, damaged shoulder; and wide receiver Brian Fryer, torn knee cartilage, were placed on injured reserve. The Redskins placed them on their injured list mostly because they think all four players are solid prospects and another year of seasoning and attending practives at Redskin Park might pay off in 1978.
Allen said Kilmer will start at quarterback against Miami and play a quarter. He will then be relieved by Brian Dowling, who will play the second quarter. Joe Theismann will finish up the second half . . . Kilmer did not throw much today after a torrential downpour hit the afternoon practice session. He had a sore arm two weeks ago after throwing wet footballs . . . Allen listed return man Eddie Brown as doubtful for the Dolphins. He still has a strained groin muscle . . . assistant trainer Keoki Kamau had 90 pineapples shipped from Hawaii, and the Redskins devoured most of them after practice. Aloha.