The Washington Redskins got down to serious business on the practice field yesterday and Coach Jack Pardee wasted no time installing new cornerback Lemar Parish in his starting defensive secondary.
Parrish and defensive end Coy Bacon cost the Redskins a No. 1 draft choice two months ago, and when the team left the practice field after yesterday morning's workout, there was no doubt in General Manager Bobby Beathard's mind the deal was worth it.
"I think we now have one whale of a secondary," Beathard said. "When you look for talent in the colleges for cornerbacks. Lemar is the guy you think about. He is still as quick as a cat. He has that ability that's so hard to find, to close on the ball, that instant acceleration."
"He's just what I expected," added Pardee. "It's hard to see any daylight between him and the receiver."
The Bacon slice of the deal was looking better yesterday because the big defensive end apparently will be able to pass his physical and return to the practice field today or tomorrow.
Bacon was examined at Carlisle Hospital of damage to determine the extent of damage to the left knee he injured last year in Cincinnati. "They said I've got no problems," Bacon said. "I'm ready to go."
In another defensive development yesterday, Mike Curtis practiced at middle linebacker with the second unit, an arrangement Curtis said is permanent. He played on the outside in 1977, replacing the injured Chris Hanburger.
"I feel like I'm coming home," Curtis said. "I feel a lot more comfortable there. It looks like I'll be in the middle all the time. I guess I'll work outside if they need me there, but right now they don't.
Pardee said Curtis will be used in the middle in the three-rushman, four-linebacker alignment he plans to begin polishing in today's practice. "We might as well start him off in the middle of the 4-3, too.
"We've got a lot of different arrangements and if Curtis is one of our best players. I've got to find a way to get him on the field."
There was no question yesterday that Parrish is one of the Redskins' best football players. Not one pass was completed against him in the morning seven-on-seven or 11-on-11 drills, and that came as no surprise to All-Pro strong safety Ken Houston.
"A lot of corners are just quick," Houston said. "Lemar is quick and fast. When I say quick. I'm talking about the ability to come back and cover the 10 yard out. Fast is when you go down the field with the man. You saw Lemar do that all day.
"He can't help but to make us that much better. We've been fortunate to have good people at the corner in the past, and we have one of the best right now. You don't have to worry about anyone's position but your own with a guy like that."
Parrish was equally delighted with his teammates in the secondary. "I don't see too much getting past us back there," he said after the morning workout. "They're all hard worker, they want to be the best, and I feel like we will be.
"I have my own style, I developed my own technique. I depend on my quickness and my ability to read pass patterns. I try to take positions off my receivers and give them nowhere to go. That's the key to playing the corner, taking something away from the man you're covering.
"I want to give him one choice, and force him to where I can get some hlelp. The most important thing is to be mentally tough and physically tough. You have to believe in yourself, that you are the best.
"I know the receivers are good, but you have to know your own ability and feel that way about yourself."
Parrish also insisted the new rules limiting contact with receivers will not hinder him. In 1978, defenders will be allowed to make contract in a five-yard zone beyond the line of scrimmage, but cannot hit the man again after that.
Last year, a defender could make contact either once in a three-yard zone at the line or once beyond that zone, but not both.
"I'll still play my game," Parrish said. "I do like to use my hands, but I'll come up with something."
In the morning practice, Parrish slightly twisted an ankle when he stepped in a hole on the field. But he took part in the afternoon session, and several times demonstrated why his Bengal teammates called him "Leapin' Lamar" by jumping high to bat down passes.
The first flight of the preseason matched running back Mike Thomas and linebacker Stu O'Dell in the morning practice. It was quickly broken up, though observers said O'Dell won a unanimous decision . . . Thomas and John Riggins were paired in the first backfield . . . The Redskins released the names of seven more cuts: cornerback Tommy Campbell, Iowa State: offensive tackle Mark Griffin, North Carolina: tight end Glover Rogers, Iowa State, running backs Selvie Washington, Wisconsin, and Duane Jones, Mississippi Valley, and guards Steve McCabe, the team's 12th-round draft pick from Bowdoin, and Mike Yeates, Maryland.