Billy Kilmer was still looking for security and Joe Theismann searching for his voice yesterday as the Redskins began their first training camp under Coach Jack Pardee with a meeting and short practice.
A tanned, svelte and healthy Kilmer confirmed that some progress had been made on his contract negotiations and that money is not an issue.
Kilmer is on the option year of a contract that pays him $220,000 a year.
"We agreed on money two months ago," he said. "I've got no complaints on that, I just want some assurances that I'll be here for two years. I know there's a couple of places around the league I could play two or three more years.
"I want to make sure I'm not used as any kind of scapegoat. I want that guarantee that I'll be here. I don't care if it's as the water boy or what, that's all I'm asking.
"What if a John Riggins goes down or a Chris Hanburger goes down and we don't have a strong team? Who will they blame? The quarterback, that's who. I don't want people to say it's my age, my legs, any of that stuff."
Kilmer insisted yesterday that he has never demanded to be the Redskins's starting quarterback, as reported previously in The Washington Post. Pardee had said in the offseason that the position would be wide open in camp.
"When I said I wanted a two-year guaranteed contract everybody took that to mean that I was demanding the starting job," Kilmer said. "I know you have to perform to keep your job in this game. Competition never scared me. It never has and it never will. I had to fight off a pretty good quarterback when I came here (Sonny Jurgensen), probably the best. I did all right then, I'll do all right now."
Kilmer was asked if he might bend on his request for an ironclad two-year deal and replied, "Conceivably I could sign a one-year contract, but I haven't discussed that with them.If I do, then there would have to be more money. But it's something that hasn't came up yet. I'd like to get it alone, sure and I've told them I'm available any time day or night to talk."
Kilmer's first appearance at the practice field was greeted with some polite applause from the 75 spectators who braved ominous skies and an occasional drizzle to watch the mostly rookie Redskins go through a brief 45-minute workout.
Pardee said he was "pleased with Billy's physical condition. It looks like he's in real good shape. It's always tough if you come in overweight. Then you have leg problem, you can't concentrate on other things."
Kilmer said he was delighted to be in camp, even if his contract problems remain. "Every time I come to camp I feel great," he said. "We have championship-caliber players and if we can stay injury free, we'll still be around the top of the division. I think if we're 11-5 we'll be in the playoffs. That's our goal. I think 10-6 would get us a wild card spot."
"I'd like to play 16 games, sure - I don't want to get hurt. But you can't predict what's going to happen. Physically, I feel great. I hurt my knee last year lifting weights, and I'm not going to do that again. The knee's fine. My back is fine. I've got no problems.
"Now playing two extra games, every team has to have two solid winning quarterbacks. I don't think there will be very many quarterbacks who will play the whole 16."
Theismann would like to try, and his battle with Kilmer for the starting position will be among the most intriguing in the first Redskin camp since 1970 without George Allen at the helm.
Theismann lost his voice barking out signals early in practice, much to the amusement of his teammates. "Happens every year," he said. "It's one thing you can't work on."
There was nothing wrong with Theismann's larynx in a prepractice interview, nor any problem with his enthusiasm.
"I think this whole set up is fabulous," he said. "It's just a whole change in atmosphere and attitude around here. I think the (quarterback) job is wide open, and it's got a real element of excitement. The guy who works hard for the job will earn it, and that's little different than it's been around here."
"At our position during the situation before, you were always looking over your shoulder. You never knew when the big hook was coming out, for both guys. I also made a big mistake for years. I was always in one-on-one competition with Billy.
"As long as I completed one more pass than he did, or looked better one more day than he did, I was happy. That's wrong. It's still a team game.
"I've just decided to take care of Joe, and Bill will do the things he's done that have made him so successful. I'm not going to worry about him. I'm just going to prepare myself to play."
Both quarterbacks said yesterday they had no objections if Pardee decides to call the plays from the sidelines, both agreed there seems to be more versatility and flair in the Redskins attack, designed by offensive coordinator Jor Walton.
"I would say 90 percent of our offense is changed," Theismann said. "The old philosophy was not to make mistakes.But you actually felt like you were committing a sin if something went wrong; they made you feel terrible. Sure, you feel bad about an interception but if you throw 300 to 400 passes a year they're going to happen.
"You work hard to correct the mistakes, and you should feel bad. But you don't harp on it. And you have to take chances every now and then.This is a game that can't be played the same way every week.
"They believe in getting a job done. Before, we were in a programmed system. If your style wasn't what they had in mind, you had to adapt to do to their way. I think that's changed. They're much more flexible, there's more versatility in it, and there's the opportunity to use it. The potential is there for me to play the way I know how to play. That's all you can ask."
Rich Galbos, a running back from Ohio State; Nate Jackson, a running back from Tennessee State, and Adrian Hickman, a linebacker from Harding, were missing from action yesterday. Pardee said he expected them in camp today. Mel DeLaura, a wide receiver from Portland State, told the coach after practice that he would be leaving camp because of "personal problems" . . . Another receiver, Doug Barwegan of Arkansas, left after failing his physical. Two-a-day workouts begin today at 9 a.m., with the afternoon practice at 3.