Will Wynn, a defensive end whose name and ability pleases coach George Allen, was signed yesterday by the Redskins as insurance for their battered defensive line in their bid to make the playoffs.
To make room for Wynn, a three-year starter for the Philadelphia Eagles before being released in the final cutdown this season, the Redskins placed wide receiver Howard Satterwhite on waivers. They signed him only a week ago.
Allen said the move was necessary because starting defensive tackle Bill Brundige is "very doubtbul" for Saturday's regular-season finale against the Los Angeles Rams because of a bad contusion on his left knee.
With starting defensive end Dennis Johnson already on the injured reserve list (torn knee ligaments), the only available reserve lineman would have been Dallas Hickman. And that special-team star is wearing a cast for a broken thumb on his left hand.
A Philadelphia spokesman said Wynn became expendable when the Eagles went to a 3-4 defense with its three-man front. Wynn would not amplify on his problems if any, with the Eagles, saying only "I guess I didn't fit into their system."
After one day of practice, during which he posed in the team's annual picture at Redskin Park, the 28-year-old Wynn said he thought he had found a new home with the Redskins.
"I thought he played well with the Eagles," said Allen. "He has good speed, good size and he's young. He just didn't seem to fit in there. He could be another guy like we've picked up before, that another team has given up on.
"He's got the ability. We'll find out whether he's got the dedication."
Wynn is best remembered by Washington fans for his late hit on quarterback Billy Kilmer last season in the Redskins 20-17 overtime win against Philadelphia.
Kilmer suffered a shoulder injury on the play and Joe Theismann started the next seven games before Kilmer came back and led Washington to four straight victories and the wild-card playoff berth.
Unless the Redskins beat the Rams by at least 45 points, they will need help from either the Detroit Lions (vs. Minnesota) or the New York Giants (vs. Chicago in order to make the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years.
They need help, but Allen and most of his players say this is no time to think about it, because by doing so they could loss the psychological advantage they have for this game against a division winner with nothing to gain from beating the Redskins.
"It's poison if you think like that," said linebacker Peter Wysocki. "You subsequently let up. We've got to win. If we do that we've done the best we can, period. If you think about that (what the Bears and Vikings will do) too much, the Rams could come here and wreck us."
Actually, the Redskins could still get in if they lose, provided the Vikings also lose and the point spread does not wipe out Washington's 16-point bluge in conference point differential.
"That's like waiting for the invisible ship to come in," Wysocki said. "You don't wait. You swim out to meet it. Your friends talk about the possibilities to you. That's the worst thing. And they think they're cheering you up."
"I don't even want to talk about that," Allen said after the closed practice. "If we win, we'll be in the playoffs somehow. I said that a month ago, that if we finish the season with three wins, something will happen."
But Allen would not predict what that something might be, nor would any of a dozen Redskins interviewed, except defensive right end Karl Lorch. And he had to be pushed.
"Maybe Detroit," he said, "because they just won the other one (13-10 over Baltimore Sunday)."
"We've got to beat the Rams first before we even think about that," Hickman said.
"I just think we have to win and everything will work out for us," said left linebacker Brad Dusek. "I don't care how we get in. It will just work out for us. We have to win."
"We don't need any help," said cornerback Gerard Williams. "We haven's had any help all year."
"It's too bad we have to be in this situation," linebacker Mike Curtis said. "If we had beaten the New York Giants once . . .
"But then, maybe, we wouldn't have gotten up and beaten another team."
Allen confirmed that center Len Hauss broke another rib in the 26-20 victory over the Cardinals . . . "So, he'll have to take another shot," Allen said. "We're giving the Xylocane company lots of business. You ought to buy some stock in it" . . . Hauss is one of at least four Redskins playing with broken bones . . . Guard Terry Hermeling, who played only on the field-goal protection team against the Cardinals, was on the field yesterday, but he did little work. Allen said . . . The coach praised the Rams and quarterback Pat Haden, in particular. "We have to beat what I consider the strongest team in the NFC, with more talent than even the Dallas Cowboys," Allen said.