Quarterback Joe Theismann continued to operate the Redskins' first-unit offense yesterday and Calvin Hill replaced Mike Thomas at tailback in another two-hour closed practice at Redskin Park.
Again, coach George Allen insisted he would not announce his starters until game time, but team sources said both Theismann and Hill probably will open against the Eagles Sunday, a game the Redskins all know they cannot afford to lose.
"I'm not trying to play games with the press or anyone else," Allen said after practice. "It's always been my policy if I'm going to make a change, whether it's quarterback, cornerback, middle linebacker or strong safety, that I usually don't announce it.
"That's strategy and part of our game plan. If somebody was going to start against us, I'd like to know early in the week. I'd get the game film out and study him to prepare for him."
If Allen does decide to switch tailbacks, it would be Hill's first start for the Redskins since joining them as a free agent before last season began. Thomas practiced yesterday but was paired mostly with second-team fullback Eddy Moss, while Hill worked with Clarence Harmon.
"I really don't know what's happening," Hill said. "No, I don't expect to start at all, I'm not even thinking about it. I'm just trying to get my assignments right. When you have two positions in your mind, when you hear the formation called you instinctively go to the position you've played longest. That's what I'm trying to keep straight now, fullback and tailback.
"Mike has been running very well in practice. As far as I see it, it's the same as always. So I don't even worry about it anymore."
But Thomas has been having trouble with a hamstring and strained a knee last Sunday against the Giants. He also has had costly fumbles and dropped passes in two of the Redskins' three losses.
Allen also ruled out both linebacker Chris Hanburger (torn knee ligament) and wide receiver Charlie Taylor (pulled hamstring) for action against the Eagles. He held out some hope that free safety Jake Scott might be able to play.
Scott has a pulled leg muscle and received an injection for it Thursday, according to Allen. "I wouldn't rule him out because he's so tough," Allen said.
If Scott cannot play, Eddie Brown will take his place.
Hanburger managed to work briefly in a seven-on-seven drill yesterday with the second-team defense and Allen told him not to go all out and to quit when he felt like it. Hanburger is expected to be ready for the Monday night game Nov. 7 against the Colts.