Defensive end Rod McDole, the oldest Redskin at 38, was one of the final two cuts the team made to reach the NFL's 43-man-regular season player limit, it was learned yesterday.Coach George Allen said McDole quickly cleared waivers and will be back at practice today.
As offensive tackle George Starke returned to practice following a one-day walkout in a contract dispute, the Redskins also waived linebacker Joe Harris. He was notified just prior to the season's first closed practice.
Allen said he closed practice at the players' request so they could concerntration better. It was more likely he barred reporters so they could not figure out who been cut.
Afterward Allen refused to disclose the final cuts, saying it was possible he would take back the players if they cleared waivers. The Redskins can either put them on the active roster or a two-man taxi squad that must be named by Thursday.
Allen, confirmed last night the waiving of McDole in an interview on WJLA-TV-7: which signed the coach to a $22,500 contract this season get insert.
There were these other significant development five days before the team opens its regular season against the New York Giants:
The Redskins gave the first public indication that running back Mike Thomas, hampered all preseason by a hamstring injury, would be ready for the Giants. Thomas was listed as "probable" on the first required in jury report to league headquaters. Thomas said he had no doubt he would play, Allen said.
Doctors are puzzled by what caused linebacker Chris Hamburger's suspected infection following a Sept. 1 appendectomy. The defensive signal coller will be hospitalized for at least a couple more days while doctors await the results of more sophisticated tests. Hanburger's temperature, however, has returned to near normal a good sign, his doctors said.
Pat Fischer, the starting left cornerback who is working his way back from a pinched back nerve, said he can play Sunday if Allen wants him to. Allen said he did not want to rush Fischer's return and would use the 17-year veteran only in an emergency.
The more Allen made with McDole is a fairly common one in the NFL: put a veteran on waivers to protect a younger player, expecting that other teams will pass up the veteran because of his age and high salary.
"There's no use announcing the cuts and embarassing somebody," Allen said. "Everybody in the league is doing it. We'll probably sign a couple for the cab squad."
According to league headquarters, teams could practice yesterday with only their 43 active players and any men listed or injured reserve. However, the spokesman said, teams can include their taxi-squad members in practice starting today. Allen said today's practice would be open to reporters.
Allen has not indicated what he will do with his taxi squad. But league rule allow unlimited movement between the 43-man active roster and the two-man inactive roster, or taxi squad up to 48 hours prior to a game. There also is an emergency provision allowing a move up to one hour before game time.
This gives a manpower craftsman like Allen plenty of opportunity to juggle players to suit the team's needs.
It has been reported that quarterback Brian Dowling, waived last week to make room for linebacker Mike Curtis, would get one of the spots on the cab squad. He cleared waivers and is eligible. Allen also could put Hanburger there until he is able to play. In the meantime, McDole could take Hanburger's place on the active roster.
Allen cannot put Hanburger on the injured reserve list, because those players must sit out the season.
Thomas, who gained 1,102 yards last season but participated in the only five preseason drills yesterday. He said he expects to today.
"I have no doubts I'll be able to start Sunday," Thomas said.
"That injury report's too early in the week," Allen said. "To forecast anything on people who haven't played is a wild guess."
Last season, when Thomas also had leg problems. Allen often was gloomy about Thomas' chances in mid week. But Thomas always insisted he would play in the next game, and did in 13 of 14 regular season contests.
Meanswhile, the Redskins reported to the league that Hanburger definitely will not play Sunday. Dr. Frank Cardenas, who performed the surgery on Hanburger, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Dr. Donald Knowlan, the Redskins' internist, said Hanburger had made progress, but nevertheless expressed concern over the source of Hanburger's infection.
"Anytime a postoperative patient runs a fever you have to pay a lot of attention to him at any period of time," Dr. Knowlan said. "He's made some improvement . . . We've checked him head to toe but can't find what caused the infection. There's no evidence of infection at the site of the wound (incision) and all the normal lab tests are normal."
Yesterday, Hanburger underwent a gallium scan, in which radioactive material is injected into the body and a scanner is used to see if it can locate the area of infection. Dr. Knowlan said these results should be known today or Thursday and that Hanburger remain in Arlington Hospital.
"He's be out of the hospital when we are satisfied that everyhing is under control," said Dr. Knowlan. "How long will he be out? I might be able to answer that at the end of the week."
Monday, Dr. Cardenas said it was possible, but unlikely Hanburger would be available for the Atlanta game Sept. 25.
Fischer, who is listed as doubtful for the Giant game, said he was continuing to make progress. He has been sidelines seven weeks.
"I could play if he (Allen) asked me to," Fischer said after practice. "If he doesn't, I won't."
"There's no sense in playing him unless we have to," said Allen. "I don't want to overwork him."
Allen has only three cornerbacks on the active roster, Gerard Williams or Lavender are injured, Allen said, he would turn to Fischer and not nickel-man Eddie Brown, who played so well against the Jets in the final preseason game.