The defensive line George Allen believes will open the regular season will play together in a football game for the first time this summer when the Redskins take on the Miami Dolphins Saturday night in the Orange Bowl.
"It's still to early to tell what's going to happen," said defensive coordinator Torgy Torgeson. "But we've got to find out if these guys can do it. We think they can, and we'll start to get a pretty good idea after this game.
Diron Talbert, who sat out last week's preseason opener in Cleveland as a precautionary measure because of a lump in his chest, will be back starting at his familiar right tackle position. "I'm looking forward to playing again. I've missed too much work already, so I've got to play," said Talbert, relieved that the mysterious lump responded to treatment."
Throughout the offseason, the Redskins kept saying that improving their pass rush was the No. 1 preseason priority, and it still is. The Redskins first until - without Talbert - did not come close to posting a sack against the Browns last week.
"Not having Talbert in there made a big difference," said Torgeson. He's one of our better pass rushers. I think they'll be better in Miami.'
Fans will be able to judge for themselves. The game will be televised by WJLA-7, Starting at 8 p.m.
Since training camp started, there has been talk about major changes in the line. One report has Bill Brundige moving out to defensive end in place of Denns Johnson. Others have either Dallas Hickman or Karl Lorch in the lineup on opening day.
"I don't know what George Allen is thinking on that," Torgeson said. "But I do know we've got a lot of capable people out there who can play if we need them. Right now, we're staying with what we've got."
Johnson says he is not concerned about losing his job, although he admitted. "We do need to get better. We had something like 40 sacks last year (44), but a lot of those were by linebackers on the blitz.
"Our goal this year is for each man on the line to average 10 sacks. We do that, we'll rank right up there with anybody in the league, and I think its certainly a realistic goal.
"Last year, we had a new man (Dave Butz) in there. I haven't been starting for very long, and I missed four games with injuries. These things take time. And I don't really think we can be totally judged on the preseason. We're putting things in now for the regular season, when it counts, and we've not stressing these preseason games. But we're coming along, and we've going to have a good year.
"The fact that all these younger guys are playing a lot in the preseason is going to help us in the long run," Johnson went on. "If somebody goes down, we've got another guy who can step right in and feel comfortable. So it's a healthy situation, and I think we're getting better every day."
The Redskins keep trying to get better at the cornerback position. Today, before the team left for Miami, the revolving door swung around again and deposited a mystery man at the Dickinson College practice field in Carlisle. Pa. He turned out to be Rick Sowells, who had been cut by the New York Jets Tuesday.
At first, Redskin officials refused to tell reporters who the new man in camp was. And when he was approached as he warmed up for his tryout, Sowells said he had been told not to talk to the press.
"What's your name?" he was asked.
"It's not important," he said.
"Are you here for a tryout?"
"I'm just trying to get a job, man, I'll take to you some other time," he said.
"Have you been told not to talk to the writers?"
"You got it," he said, then trotted away.
Allen later said that rather than sign Sowells, the Redskins would merely put him on hold in case they need him in an emergency later on, if Starter Pat Fischer's sore back keeps him sidelined.
Sowell, 6-foot and 180 pounds, played with the Jets for six years after being drafted out of Alcorn A&M in the 12th round in 1971. He was a starter in 1974 and 1975, but started only three games last year after suffering a fractured shoulder in training camp.
The Redskins still insist that Gerard William will be able to step in and start if Fischer is physically unable to perform. Williams will open at the left corner in the game here and is expected to play the entire contest.
"He's just got to keep improving," Torgeson said of Williams. "He hasn't disppointed us yet, but we've only seen him in one game."
Allen also said today that he would like to give Charley Taylor his first start of the preseason at wide receiver. "Again, I'll leave it up to him, but I'd like him to play that first quarter with Billy (Kilmer)," Allen said.
"Right now," said Taylor, "I feel like I want to play. I got real excited just being out on the field last week in Cleveland. I guess I'm as ready as I'll ever be. It's time to see what I can do."
Safety Jake Scott, who has been hobbled recently by a strained hamstring, also is expected to start against his former Miami teammates. "It's just another game to me," he said. "What happened in the past is over. I don't even think about it."
Two Redskins, running backs Mike Thomas and James Sykes, will not be ready for the game. Thomas is still recovering from a strained hamstring, and Sykes is on crutches with a deep thigh bruise. He is expected to be out at least two weeks.
The Redskins had a 99-minute workout in Carlisle today before leaving for Miami at 1 p.m. Allen said he had asked his players to "dress appropriately" for the trip because "a lot of them last week looked like they were going on a camping trip." Larry Jones came outof the locker room in a warmup jacket and asked Allen if he had a tie that would match it . . . Skip Sharp, (he came through the revolving door Thursday), showed up at practice with his beard shaved off. Allen said the disappearance of the whiskers resulted from "a strong suggestion." . . . Crack security man Ed (Double 0) Boynton, for the first time in a brilliant career of guarding the bacon and eggs, showed up late for breakfast today. He fined himself $2.