George Allen gave cornerback Gerard Williams another tentative vote of confidence yesterday and also strongly hinted the Redksins may have a new face in their starting fron four when the regular season rolls around.
Allen said that second-year defensive and Karl Lorch has improved tremendously and that "he's playing well enough right now so that it's going to be very hard to keep him out of the starting lineup.
"If he continues to play like that, we'v got to find a spot for him somewhere in that defensive line. He's going to help us a lot in an area (the pass rush) that we felt we had to improve on during training camp."
Lorch, a 6-foot-3, 258-pound native of Hawaii, has been treating opposition quarterbacks like so much crushed pineapple this preseason. Against the Packers Saturday night in Milwaukee, he had back-to-back sacks of Lynn Dickey at the start of the second half and added another in the fourth quarter.
Precisely where Lorch will fit in or who he will ease out - still remains to be seen. He has practiced the entire preseason at the left end position manned exclusively by 17-year veteran Ron McDole since the 1971 season.
Allen refused yesterday to be drawn into saying that Lorch would replace McDole.
"I'm not going to put Ron on the spot or any of those guys," Allen hedged. "But Karl can play any position on the line, and we've got to find a spot to use him."
A year ago, the Redskins were not especially happy with the play of defensive end Dennis Johnson, and club sources say Lorch would probably have no difficulty switching over to the right side.
Allen also was noncommital when asked if he would have Lorch working with the first unit this week in practice, saying only that he had made no decision on that in the 18 hours following the Redskins' 13-9 victory over the Packers.
Smack in the middle of Allen postgame press conference Saturday night, it suddenly occured to the coach that he had also not made a decision to award a game ball.
"I've got to do that right now" he told several reporters, then went back inside and suggested to safety Ken Houston that Williams be given the honor.
Still trying to convince the Redskins that he will be an adequate replacement for injured Pat Fischer, Williams had one interception, broke up at least four passes and demonstrated that he is not at all hesitant to stick his head into the belly of an opposing ball carrier or blocker heading around his corner.
"He did a heck of a job," Allen said. "He came up and hit people on those runs, and he's going to get better every week. It should help his confidence. That was by far his best game of the preseason."
Allen was asked if Williams' performance meant the coach now had enough confidence to start him at cornerback if Fischer can't play.
"Well, Gerard hasn't done anything that tells me he can't do the job," Allen said. "And I'm not as concerned about him as I was. But this was only one game and he didn't play much last year. I know he's going to get better. It's still too early to tell about Fischer, even though several Redskin sources said yesterday they still have serious doubts whether the little cornerback can recover enough to make a significant contribution during the regular season. Some people are saying it will take a minor miracle for Fischer to play in the season opener Sept. 18 against the Giants.
Fischer is supposed to see team physician Dr. Stanford Lavine today, and then perhaps begin the first major step in his rehabilitation program. If Lavine approves, he probably will begin jogging at Redskin Park this afternoon.
"I have to start running or doing something," Fischer said from his Leesburg, Va. home. "I took it upon myself to do some walking last week, probably a little more than they suggested. But I came through that all right, and I'm feeling pretty good.
"I feel a whole lot better than I did three weeks ago, but I still get some of thost sensations in my legs, and that concerns me. If that comes back like it did before, well, that's something we have to find out. Hopefully, with the stress and the increased training it will resolve itself. We'll find out this week.
"I've said all along my first concern was to get it well, regardless of how long it takes. Sure I'm hopeful, but real life tells me I've got to start doing something now.
"If they tellme to try and do it this week, fine. If they want me to wait, I'll wait. And if they try to tell me they don't need me, well, we'll just have to wait and see. No, they haven't said that to me. But time is running out."
it is also running out in the exhibition season, and Allen said his major goals in the final two preseason games against the Jets an Patriots were to improve the team's conditioning, get the squad pared down - he must go from 60 to 52 by 4 p.m. Tuesday - and eliminate all those mistakes that have plagued his team every week.
Against the Packers, the Redskins had 10 penalties for 95 yards and a costly fumble and interception - the fifth thrown by quarterback Joe Theismann this preseason - to set up a Green Bay touchdown and field goal.
"The mistakes are more a lack of concentration than anything else," Allen insisted. "We're showing bad judgment on some of these things. We shouldn't be holding and clipping as much as we are."
And what about Theismann? Was Alen disappointed in his somewhat erratic performances the last three games?
"I'm not concerned about Joe," Allen said. "I think sometimes he's trying to score and make the big play faster than he has to. But some of those interceptions aren't his fault. He had two of them in Miami where the receiver ran the wrong pattern, things like that."
Allen's only concern about Billy Kilmer involves the veteran quarterback's physical condition. Kilmer has been limping noticeably on a sore left knee all during training camp, though he has completed 77 per cent of his passes - 27 of 35 attempts for 257 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Allen said Kilmer would play half against the Patriots on Sunday and three quarters the following week against the Jets in the final tuneup before the Giant game. He also indicated he would like to give running back Mike Thomas a quarter of work in New England, as well. Thomas had not played in the first four games because of a pulled leg muscle.
The Redskins escaped the Packer game with no serious injuries, though wide receiver Larry Jones suffered a sprained right wrist when tackled on an end-around play. X rays proved negative, however, and he should be able to practice this week.
The Redskins, who never bother to make formal announcements about such things, quietly dropped rookie running back James Sykes, a 10th-round pick from Rice (bruised thigh), and veteran wide receiver Don Clune (broken finger) off the injured reserve list. Both were paid for the number of weeks their injuries would have taken to heal . . . Defensive tackle Tyrone Dye (broken foot) also will be dropped from injured reserve this week . . . the Redskins have only two draft choices left from the six-man 1977 crop, and defensive end Duncan McColl and tight end Duncan McColl and tight end Reggie Haynes will have difficulty making the active roster . . . Allen has said he's made "three cuts in my mind already" but won't reveal them until Tuesday or Wednesday . . . He gave the thing to do," Allen said. "We had three games in 10 days, and we're not going to have much time the rest of the way. Now's the time to do it."