The Washington Redskins, minus Pat Fischer, who failed his physical examination, and boycotting Billy Kilmer, gathered for the first time under Jack Pardee yesterday at Redskin park.
Fischer, the feisty little cornerback who had back surgery last October, would like to play his 18th NFL season.But Pardee said the team doctor, Stanford lavine, could not allow him to play because of his condition.
Pardee said Fischer's chances of playing this fall were "very doubtful." He added "I'm more concerned about Pat being healthy than his being a football player for us."
Besides the developments regarding Fischer and the absence of Kilmer, the major news on the first day of the Redskins' three-day minicamp at Redskin Park were two position changes in the interior line.
Pardee has decided to switch Terry Hermeling from right guard back to his old position, left tackle. And reserve Dan Nugent has been promoted to first-team right guard.
Tim Stokes, the starting left tackle the past two seasons, apparently has been demoted to the second team for now. Pardee explained why when asked if he was dissatisfied with Stokes.
"Tim hasn't been lifting. He's not strong, you can tell that," Pardee said. "Physically, he hasn't proven himself. That position is going to be open to the player who can work the hardest. There's no magic to this game. It's a matter of whether you're strong enough to play the position."
Pardee, who succeeded his former coach, George Allen, said the switches in the line were "not permanent, but we are considering it." We're listing Terry as a guard-tackle as a way to try to use the player's abilities the best we can.
"We felt a Nugent, a Bob Kuziel (who plays center) have shown signs of needing a chance to play, and they also have the ability and strength to play."
Nugent was delighted with the chance to become a starter. "It looks like the position is wide open," he said. "It wasn't that way under George (Allen). You had to have a few more years under you. I started four or five games last year because we had some injuries, but it looks like they're giving me a real good chance to win the position. It feels good, real good."
Hermeling started at left tackle in 1972, 1973 and 1975, but was switched to guard in 1976, where he started the last two years. "Nah, it doesn't bother me," he said of the switch. "It's not like I haven't played the position. It feels a little strange right now, but it won't be any problem."
Stokes was not pleased by his demotion, but said he preferred "not to make a big issue out of it. It's their decision, and other than that I'd rather not comment about it."
There was another position change Pardee labeled as an "experiment." Dallas Hickman, the 6-foot-6 third-year man, was moved from defensive end to outside linebacker.
"We're going to work on a little 34 defense," Pardee said, referring to the three-linemen, four-linebacker system many NFL teams are using. "With that in mind, we wanted to look at Dallas at linebacker. He could probably play both positions, anyway. He's been playing the line the last few years and in about two seconds he could line up there and give us a pass rush."The increased use of the 34 defense may also explain the switch in Pardee's offensive line. "Ray Callahan (the offensive line coach) has told me we're going to do more running, a lot more pulling with guards on sweeps trying to get the ball outside," Nugent said.
"With so many teams going to the 34, you've got so many fast linebackers out there and you need fast guards to chase those guys all around the field. It's something I really enjoy doing, and I'm thankful to have the chance."
Kilmer's absence from the camp was expected. The veteran quarterback had said he would not attend the three-day session unless he had signed a two-year contract. That was not accomplished.
"I wish Bill were here," Pardee said. "I don't like to have player problems come up, but there's nothing unique about it. We're not going to over-react. He's missing what we're doing, but he's played long enough that he can catch up. It would still be Bill's benefit to be here."
General Manager Bob Beathard said he had not been able to contact Kilmer Thursday and said, "I don't even want to talk about this thing."
When asked if he thought Kilmer's request for a two-year contract could be granted, Beathard said, "I wouldn't say it's out of our scope. But a lot is being made here out of nothing. I keep saying he knows what we think of him. It would be in his best interest, and the team's interest, to be here. But he made that decision."
The 65 veterans who showed up yesterday went through two practice sessions and meetings in which they were told details of Pardee's system. Many of the drills Pardee uses are the same Allen used for seven years. But there is a major differences - the practices are shorter, at least for now.
Tight end Tom Mitchell, who has knee problems and probably would not be able to pass a physical, according to Beathard, also was absent . . . Running back Jim Kiick was missing, too, and Beathard had no idea where he was."The story I heard a month ago from Don Shula was that Kick said he didn't plan to come to training camp anyway," Beathard said. "Shula asked him. 'Why did you sign' and Jim said, 'I don't know . . . Defensive back Mei Renfro had some business in Dallas and stayed home. Beathard said Renfro would come To Washington Tuesday for a physical before any decision on signing him would be made. . . Linebacker Pete Wysocki signed a two-year contract and participated in both sessions . . . Cornerback Mike Williams, the team's 11th-round draft choice from Texas A&M was limping on a sprained ankle incurred in a pickup bastketball game.