Redskin tight end Jean Fugett was hobbling around Redskin Park yesterday on a sore and swollen left knee. Coach Jack Pardee insisted "it should be okay" for the season opener 12 days away, but the Redskins are deeply concerned about the injury.
Fugett underwent knee surgery last March to remove cartilage in his left knee, and it puffed up after he landed on a hard spot in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium Friday night trying to block a linebacker.
Fugett passed up yesterday's welcome home luncheon at the Sheraton-Park Hotel to get 100 ccs of fluid drained from his knee at Sibley Hospital. Pardee said yesterday Fugett definitely will miss Friday's preseason finale here against the Atlanta Falcons.
"I don't think it's anything that will keep him out any longer," Pardee said, characterizing the injury as a bruise. If this was a regular season league game this week, it might be touch and go. In two weeks it should be okay."
Fugett has not had very much playing time in the preseason and Pardee said, "I'm concerned about his conditioning."
Trainer Bubba Tyer said yesterday Fugett may have twisted the lateral cartilage in the knee, but said the new injury was not in the area of Fugett's offseason knee surgery. "The doctor says he should be able to play next week," Tyler said.
Fugett said, "I feel like I can come back for New England. I've already promised people two touchdowns for that game. The doctor didn't seem too worried about it, so I won't be, either.
"I'll just stay off it a couple of days and try jogging Friday or Saturday. I'll know a lot more about it by then."
In other developments, the Redskins cut four players, including wide receiver Brian Fryer, and traded a 10th-round draft choice to the New York Jets to obtain Mike Hughes, an offensive lineman who was Washington's fifth choice in the 1976 draft.
Also released were quarterback Bill Kenney, fullback Jeff Kinney and tight end Grady Richardson. The cut of Kenney, obtained from Miami three weeks ago for a sixth-round 1979 draft choice that now reverts to the Redskins, leaves only two quarterbacks on the roster.
"Going into the last week (of the preseason), we have two healthy quarterbacks," Pardee said. "This week we'd be giving most of the work to two anyway. We just made a decision to cut one this week, but we could still reclaim one or pick up another quarterback later.
"As long as we have two healthy quarterbacks, that's all we really need. You usually keep a third one to groom for later on or for an emergency. But we still could end up with three. We'll keep close tabs on Kenney."
The cut of Fryer was somewhat unexpected, because he had looked so impressive early in training camp and Pardee had said in the offseason he thought the young Canadian had a shot to start in 1978.
But Fryer, who spent the last two years on injured reserve, dropped what would have been a game-trying touchdown pass in the first preseason game against Minnesota and had seen limited game action since.
Pardee said the decision to cut him "was a process of elimination. He wasn't a top return man. And because he was on injured reserve last year, we couldn't trade him. At this point it just didn't look like he'd be a starting receiver. And our back-up receivers will be our return men."
"I was hoping he would have shown us a whole lot more quicker. We looked at Brian quite a bit, he had several opportunities."
Barring a trade, it now appears that rookies Larry Franklin, a swifty from Jacks on State, and J. T. Smith, who also will return kickoffs, will be the back-ups to Frank Grant and Danny Buggs.
Fryer said last night he was "shocked" by his cut. "They said I didn't perform up to their expectations, whatever that means," he said.
"But I didn't think I played that badly. After that first game (in Minnesota) I didn't get that much more of a chance. I played about a quarter in each game, and not too many balls were thrown my way.
"Sure, that pass in Minnesota hurt me, but it's pretty cold if you can't drop one pass. I know I can still play, and I know I have a future, either in the NFL or maybe back in Canada. I'm not going to say bad things about the Redskins. But it is a cold game."
And for Mike Hughes, a rather surprising game.
Hughes was the Redskins' first draft choice (in the fifth round out of Texas in 1976. But he left training camp in the first week and sat out the year. He rejoined the team in 1977, was among the last players cut and sat cut another year.
He had signed as a free agent with the Jets in the offseason, and was playing second-team tackle until the Redskins sent a 10th-round pick, conditional on Hughes making the team, to the Jets yesterday.
Several Redskin offensive linemen are suffering from minor injuries and Pardee indicated Hughes probably would be tried at guard and tackle. He got down to the final cut last year," Pardee said. "We'll just see if he's better than what we've got in camp now."