Ron McDole rejoined the Redskins yesterday after spending 24 hours on the waiver list. As usual, there was a smile on his face and a joke on his lips as he tried to explain the complicated procedure George Allen used to keep him another year.
"I guess you could say it's like putting a used car on the market and overpricing it," he said. "At that price it's kind of hard to sell an old heap in 24 hours."
Allen technically cut McDole Monday. All 27 other teams had a chance to claim him, and the Redskins could have done nothing about ti.
Allen gambled that no team would want a man of McDole's age - 33 - or salary. So he exposed his name to the waiver list, rather than risk a younger player who might be more in demand.
Allen said yesterday he will announce his two-man taxi squad today, and he admitted he would like to place quarterback Brian Dowling in that status.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] Chris Hanoburger mostly likely will also be on the cab squad while he recovers from his [WORDS ILLEGIBLE]. Allen does not have to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] his final decision until noon Sunday.
At least one hour before kickoff Sunday, Allen must inform the referee opposing team and the press who will be on the two-man cab squad.
By 1 p.m. Friday - or 48 hours before the kickoff - the Redskins must freeze their roster. That is, they will not be able to add or delete any names from their list of 45 players, the maximum they are allowed to carry for the regular season.
The same procedure follows each week. Teams can make unlimited moves on their taxi squads. They can shuffle players on or off the cab squad up until an hour before kickoff. And during the week, they can cut players, trade players, claim players off other teams' waiver lists and sign free agents. But 48 hours before the kickoff every week they must freeze their 45-man roster.
Allen apparently still has not decided on his 45th man. It will be either Dowling or linebacker Joe Harris, both of whom are waiting to learn their fate.
Harris was in the Redskin locker room yesterday, but said he could not comment on his status because the Redskins told him not to speak with reporters. Dowling has said the same thing.
Both Dowling and Harris have been placed on waivers. Neither man practiced with the team yesterday, and technically the Redskins have only 44 players, one under the 45-man limit, counting the cab squad.
The Redskins can also recall any of the players they cut this year, up until the Tuesday after the sixth regular-season game.
That is why it is still possible, though not likely, that Jerry Smith or Brig Owens could play for the Redskins again this season. Both were placed on no-recall waivers, but no team claimed them. Both are now technically free agents and could sign with any team in the league.
If Allen lost a player with an injury that would keep him unavailable for a number of weeks, he would probably place him on the injured reserve list and bring back one of the men he had previously cut.
The injured reserve list is used several ways. Once a man goes on injured reserve, he cannot play for his team again in the same year, or placing him on waivers.
If that injured player is placed on waivers, picked up by another team, then cut again, he can rejoin his original team.
Teams can put as many players on injured reserve status as they like. Last year, the Redskins had 13 men on injured reserve - second only to Tampa Bay with 17. There were a total of 215 men in th NFL on injured reserve.
Already this season, the Redskins have nine men on their injured reserve list.Injured reserves are allowed to practice, but do not count against the roster.
"Unfortunately, there is the potential for abuse with the injured reserve list," said Jan Van Duser, NFL director of player personnel. "A number of teams, and I can't say who they are, are using it to protect young players for the future.
"We get complaints on it all the time. It's not the biggest problem we have, but it does need refinement. And if it's a blatant thing, where a guy is put on injured reserve but doesn't even miss a practice, well we'd certainly want to look into something like that and the commissioners could impose a fine."
The Redskins do have several young players now on injured reserve, including 11th-round draft choice Don Harris, a cornerback who missed one game with a thigh bruise but was back in practice a week later, adn defensive end Duncan McColl, who suffered a neck sprain last week against the Jets and said yesterday he should be able to resume working out next week.
Greg Hartle ahs also been able to work out with the team since being placed on the injured list with a bad knee early in training camp, and tight end Reggie Haynes should return to practice next week despite a lower back sprain.
All are young players the Redskins think are prospects for the future and worth investing a full year's salary to keep around, attending meetings and practicing.
"It was like being redshirted," said defensive end Dallas Hickman, who spent the 1975 season on injured reserve, then had a shoulder operation the following season. "I just figured it was better to be here than to unemployed.