Joe Theismann will start at quarterback in the Redskins' first preseason game Saturday night in Minnesota and Billy Kilmer probably will not play at all, Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday.
Kilmer has a slightly sore knee after two weeks of two-a-day practices, and while Parkee indicated yesterday. "It's nothing serious at all," he also said he did not want to risk further problems by playing Kilmer in a meaningless game.
"I'm just going on a little history with Billy," Pardee said. "Last year he started the league season and his knee was bothering him. He's okay now, and I don't want him to get hurt."
Pardee said he may also reduce Kilmer's work for the rest of this week, limiting his participation to one major passing drill a day as the Redskins continue their full-scale, two-a-day workouts for another week.
"We want to have a program to get Bill ready for the league season," Pardee said. "We just want to make sure he's well."
Pardee also said it was far too early to make any decisions at all on the quarterback position, or any other spot on the team, at least until the Redskins have played several exhibitions.
"There's not going to be a decision made or an opinion formed on the quarterbacks for quite awhile," Pardee said. "Our goal right now is to get them both ready to play because we're going to need both of them."
There was another development at the quarterback position yesterday when Pardee decided to cut rookie free agent Tim Ellis of Mississippi, leaving the Redskins with only three quarterbacks in camp.
The waiving of Ellis means that, for now, John Hurley, the Redskins' ninth-round draft choice from Santa Clara, will back up Kilmer and Theismann if the Redskins elect to carry three quarterbacks during the regular season.
Hurley had a strong showing a week ago in a rookie scrimmage against the Colts when he completed eight of 10 passes and threw for a touchdown. Neither Hurley nor Ellis was able to generate much offense in a scrimmage against the Colts Saturday, but Hurley did manage to put the only points on the board for the Redskins with a 10-yard scoring pass to fullback Nate Jackson.
There were two other cuts yesterday. Pete Solverson, an offensive tackle who had been on the team's injured reserve list in 1976 and was a training camp cut last year, was placed on waivers less than two weeks after the Redskins had signed him to a free agent contract. The Redskins are top-heavy at the tackle positions so Solverson was released, along with rookie safety Al Cowans, a free agent from Florida.
Pardee said all his veteran players would see action against the Vikings, including fullback John Riggins and tailback Mike Thomas who are sched-season games instead of the usual six), uled for as much as two quarters of play.
"This is like a normal third preseason game under the old schedule," Pardee said."In the third, fourth and fifth games you want to get everything set and save the last game to put in the final touches.
"On this kind of schedule (four pre-we're not going to hold back much, other than Kilmer."
Pardee spent most of yesterday afternoon going over films of Saturday's scrimmage against the Colts, and said he probably would make several cuts in the next few days.
He said he was impressed with the play of his wide receivers in the seven-on-seven passing drills against Baltimore's first defense, but was concerned about their lack of productivity in the regular portion of the scrimmage. None of the receivers caught a pass in 11-on-11 work.
"If the drills don't carry over to the game, well, we've got to try and improve that area," Pardee said. "If we cant't, we'll look somewhere else. I think we're pretty well set everywhere with players who can do the job, that's what we have to find out during the exhibition games."
Pardee will be particularly interested in watching the progress of two younger players he hopes will develop into return men.
He said yesterday that rookie cornerback Mike Williams, the team's 11th round draft choice from Texas AM and safety J. T. Smith, a free-agent from North Texas State, will handle most of the return duty against the Vikings.
Pardee sais he has not spoken to missing offensive tackle Jeff Williams, obtained in the Eddie Brown trade, since late last week and "I don't know where it stands right now. There has to be some point somewhere down the line where we have to make a decision. But we think a lot of him and I wish he was in here right now" . . . Pardee said full-scale two-a-day will continue this week and the team probably will have two sessions a day the rest of the camp. The morning workouts after this week probably will be brief and players would not come out in pads, he indicated . . . Rookie offensive tackle Bill Seibolt, who hurt his knee the first week of camp, will undergo surgery today at Sibley Hospital to correct a cartilege problem . . . Pardee said he does not expect the Vikings to use quarterback Fran Tarkenton against the Redskins, though he anticipated most Minnesota veterans to play.