George Allen was asked yesterday what the consequences of a loss against the Green Bay Packers Monday night would mean for the Washington Redskin at this stage of the season.
"You mean being 5.5?" he asked amazed that anyone even mentioned such a subject out loud. "Well, I used to run a boys' camp and we had these canoes. If you lost the paddle and tried to paddle with your hand, the canoe tipped over. Oh geez, I don't even like to think about things like that."
These days, Allen is thinking mostly about returning outside linebacker Chris hanburger to the starting lineup for the first time since he suffered a partially torn knee ligament against Tampa Bay on Oct. 9.
"If he's healthy and ready to go, I'd be inclined to start nim," Allen said yesterday. "I'll see how he does in the warmup . . . he's made good progress, He's worked hard, but I can't tell yet. And until you get hit on thing, you don't know."
Allen said he wanted to start Hanburger against the Colts two weeks ago, but a slippery, muddy field in Baltimore made him change his mind. Last week, he said, he didn't want to risk Hanburger's wobbly knee on the hard artificial turf in Philadelphia.
But this week, Allen said, Hanburger has been getting more work with the first unit during practise. "Any decision I make there will be based on how well his leg has come around," Allen said. "One day he's fine, and then there was one day last week when he could hardly get out his car."
Allen once again went out of his way to praise Mike Curtis, the nmawho replaced Hanburger at linebacker. He also said that Ken Houston, will has been calling defensive signals, normally has been doing "an excellent job."
But Hanburger ois the man Allen wants back in the lineup, particularly against David Whitehurst, the 22- year-old rookie quarterback who will start for the Packers Monday night. And of course, the Cowboys some to town six days later, and Hanburger's presence in the lineup for that game is especislly vital.
Allen said yesterday he had several other players categorized as "doubtful" because "they could play the whole gaeme or just one play."
Defensive end Dennis Johnson has been bothered by a sprained ankle and Allen said he would have no hesitation about starting second year man Karl Lorch in his place. If Johnson starts - and Allen said he would be no better than 80 per cent - Lorch most likely will replace him or Ron McDole on obvious passing situations.
Rusty Tillman also has been getting extra work at middle linebacker with the first defense, in case Harold McLinton continues to have problems with a pinched nerve in his neck.
Allen also said yesterday that quarterback Billy Kilmer has been looking good in practice and that "he's throwing well and his knee is completely healthy."
But Joe Theismann. definitely will start against the Packers and Allen said he has no plans to alternate his quarterbacks. "That's something I've never done," he said Joe is looking better every week."
The Redskins have borrowed a tarpaulin from the University of Maryland to cover their grass practice field for the rest of the year. . . Allen called off practice yesterday in favor of 90 minutes of meetings, though the team will work out Sunday night at RFK stadium in a session that is closed to the public . . . Allen said the Redskins had a good week of practice and that even if Sunday night's session is rained out, "we've covered everything we wanted to". . . Allen said he would also like to play Calvin Hill more often this week against the Packers both at fullback and tailback.