Joe Theismann did not produce very many yards or points Saturday night against the Minnesota Vikings, but Washington Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday, "You certainly can't blame him" for the Redskins' 20-13 preseason loss.
"I thought Joe, for the amount of pressure he was under all night, made some excellent decisions," Pardee appraised. "He scrambled well. His decisions in going to the right receivers were just excellent.
"He completed 15 of 30 passes and with all the drops and penalties against him, he could have had a great night. So I can't fault him. With a little better protection, some caught balls and fewer mistakes, we could have had just as much offense as they did."
Theismann again will be the starting quarterback when the Redskins take on the Green Bay Packers in RFK Stadium Friday night. He may be asked to go all the way again, because Billy Kilmer now has a slightly sore arm to go with his usual pesky training camp knee.
Kilmer's arches and pains are following the pattern of a year ago, but Pardee's response to the minor ailments is radically different from George Allen's approach.
While Allen wanted Kilmer to get some action in the exhibitions, Pardee reiterated yesterday he prefers to let his veteran quarterback heal before exposing his almost-39-year-old body to further damage.
"Sure he needs some preseason work," Pardee said."But we want him well, too.
"The arm is nothing serious, it's just a result of a lot of throwing. I'm not concerned about it. We'll change the practice schedule a little and not have him throw as much. His knee is getting better too. We just don't want to push him too hard and risk a problem."
Pardee is going to make a major push this week to improve the Redskin passing game. He said yesterday he plans to experiment this week by using two tight ends in certain offensive sets.
Against the Vikings, Redskin wide receivers caught only three of Theismann [LINE OMITTED]certain touchdown toss was dropped by Brian Fryer.
"There are ways we can work around the problem," Pardee said, "and one of them is to use Jim Mandich and Jean Fugett, splitting one of them out. St. Louis used to do it with J. V. Cain and Jackie Smith. We could split either man out: it wouldn't matter. Fugett has done it before and Mandich split wide in Miami once in a while, too.
"A trade (for the receiver) is also a possibility, but you can't count on that happening. If somebody has an excess, certainly we'd be interested in talking to them. But it's too early for that now. We've got to work with what we've got, and I still think we have some talented people at the position. I'm not giving up on anybody.
"But we've got to get more production."
Pardee will insist this week that his offensive line provide better protection for Theismann, who was buried six times for losses of 54 yards against the Vikings. And, of course, "we've got to eliminate those holding penalties," he said.
"I don't know why we had so many penalties; I wish I did. We were called for holding twice on running plays and that isn't supposed to happen that much. We've just got to keep working on it."
Pardee said he was rather pleased with the Redskin running game - it averaged 4.5 yard per rush - and with the defense against the run. Minnesota gained only 80 yards on the ground, an average of 2.9 a carry. But the Vikings were so successful through the air it hardly mattered.
Viking quarterback Tommy Kramer riddled the Redskins for 380 yards passing, including touchdown throws of 93 yards to Ahmad Rashad and 14 yards to Harry (Hands) Washington.
The Redskins played without safety Jack Scott (virus) and cornerback Lemar Parrish (sore toe), and Pardee said yesterday both should be available against the Packers in the home exhibition opener Friday night.
The Redskins did escape Bloomington with a minimum of injuries.
Defensive end Duncan McColl sprained his knee and flew to a family doctor in California yesterday for further examination, but Pardee said the injury was not severe.
John Riggins sprained a toe in his right foot, but the fullback is expected to be able to practice when the team resumes workouts this afternoon.
Pardee said he was satisfied with the progress of the Redskin kicking game, particularly the work of rookie punter George Roberts. A free agent from Virginia Tech who kicks left-footed, Roberts averaged 42 yards a punt and had a net average (after returns) of 39 yards.
"Last year, the best net in the conference was 35 yards," Pardee said. "I've been impressed with him. I think he can kick in the NFL."
Veteran Mike Bragg had been nursing a sore back the last two weeks but is expected to be available against the Packers. Bragg was one of the most consistent punters in the league a year ago, a devastating coffin-corner man, and his job hardly seems in jeopardy.t