Washington Redskin fullback John Riggins will find out today whether or not he'll be able to play again this season.
Stanford Lavine, the team's physician, is scheduled to remove the cast from Riggins" right knee and determine how well he has recovered from ligament damage suffered Oct. 16 against the Dallas Cowboys.
If Lavine is satisfied with the healing process, trainer Bubba Tayer said. Riggins could begin a rehabilitation program that might allow him to be ready to play in the Dec. 10 game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCES] the 5-4 Redskins' principal opponents for the NFC wildcard berth in the playoffs.
Washington starts a three-game campaign Monday night against Green Bay that it hopes will leave them alive for a playoff spot when the final two games of the year, against St. Louis and Los Angeles, roll around. Dallas and Buffalo are the Redskins opponents following Green Bay.
Tyer said that if Lavine places Riggins' leg back in a cast, it would be unlikely he would play again this season.
Tyer is optimistic about Riggins' return. The trainer said the 235-pound Riggins was experiencing neither pain nor swelling in the knee and had been doing straight-leg exercises to keep the muscles from atrophying.
"I talked to him last night and he's itching to get back" said offensive backfield coach Joe Walton. "Clarence Harmon is doing a good job, but he's a rookie and doesn't have John's size. You don't find many better-blocking fullbacks, than Riggins."
Since Riggins' injury, the Redskin offense has been considerably altered.
Opponents have said they give more attention to Washington's passing game without Riggins, without fear of getting burned too badly.
Riggins went down in the first quarter of the Dallas game. The impact of that injury can be measured in these statistics:
In the first four games, with a healthy Riggins, Washington averaged 39.5 running plays and 26.5 passing plays (including sacks) per game. In the past five games, the Redskins have averaged 29.6 rushes and 35.8 pass plays.
Of the 40 sacks suffered by the Redskins, 32 have been inflicted since Riggins' injury. Against the same opponent, the New York Giants, Kilmer was sacked twice when Riggins played, six times when he was out.
In effect, the loss of Riggins has put the Redskin offense in a position of using the pass as a necessity. That is, the Redskins are passing out of weakness now, instead of strength.
As a result, defense are teeing off against the Redskins and this additional pressure played a big part in Allen's switch from the stationary Billy Kilmer to the mobile Joe Theismann three games ago, after the loss to the Giants.
The loss of a big, exceptional pass blocker also created more pressure for the Redskins' beleaguered offensive line.
Defensive end Dennis Johnson is the most questionable Redskin for the Packer game Monday night. His sprained right ankle allowed him to play only one quarter against the Eagles Sunday . . . Offensive tackle Tim Stokes and defensive tackle Dave [WORD ILLEGIBLE] worked one-on-one after practice on pass blocking and rushing . . . Horst Muhlmann, cut by the Eagles after missing three field goals against the Redskins, became a free agent yesterday when no other NFL club claimed him off the waiver list . . . Dallas Hickman, whose blocked punt set up Washington's second touchdown Sunday, reports that his father wants to trade Betemax videotapes of Raider and 49ers games for Redskin games, so that he can see his son play.