Redskin cornerback Lemar Parrish reinjured his back during a drill at practice yesterday and left the workout in considerable pain.
Parrish's status for Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions in Pontiac, Mich., is uncertain, but Coach Jack Pardee said, "I don't think it should be a problem."
Parrish, however, could not take his jersey off without help and said, "I'll just have to see how it acts come Sunday. The biggest thing now, I think, is that I need to rest it and get treatment."
The injury has been diagnosed as muscle spasms.
Parrish came out of the Dallas game with the injury and went through a light workout Wednesday. Yesterday was the first heavy workout of the week for the Redskins and Parrish seemed to be doing all right until late in the workout. Defending against a long pass, he pulled up in pain.
"It felt pretty good and then all of a sudden it froze up on me," Parrish said. "It really hurts. I went out (to practice) today because of the short week and I knew I needed the work."
Parrish's backup is Gerrard Williams, who played the left side in place of injured Pat Fischer last year. Williams is the fifth back in the defensive alignment.
The secondary has been one of the steadiest and surest parts of the Redskins this season. It is ranked 12th in the NPC, but that is misleading.
"Statistically, we may not look all that great, but they don't cross the goal line on us much," said cornerback Joe Lavender.
Only three touchdown passes have been thrown against the Redskins. Washington has thrown eight.
The gangly, 6-foot-4 Lavender, a former basketball player at San Diego State, is nicknamed "The Bird," and the Redskin secondary is known as "The Bird's Nest." Like all good secondaries, it is close knit. With Parrish coming to the team this season, few secondaries have as much individual talent as the Redskin secondary.
Cornerbacks Parrish and Lavender are skilled man-to-man players, and the safeties are Ken Houston, reputed to be the best strong safety in football, and Jake Scott.
The group did not come cheaply to the Redskins, but Pardee feels it was worth the cost.
Lavender came from Philadelphia in 1976 for defensive tackle Manny Sistrunk and three draft choices. Houston came from the Houston Oilers in 1973 for five players. Scott came from Miami for Bryant Salter in 1976 and Parrish came with Coy Bacon from Cincinnati in the offseason for a No. 1 choice.
"We're just blending as a unit," said Lavender. "We have enough talent to make the individual plays and we are flexible enough to adjust to any situation."
With the new one-chuck rule this season , teams are forced to play more man-to-man defense, which is right up Lavender's alley.
"It really helps having played basketball," Lavender said. "I was used to taking a man all over the court there, so it wasn't that difficult to stay with a man on the football field.
"I played very little zone in Philadelphia and in college we were 100 percent man to man, and, under George Allen here, we played a lot of 'man'".
A twist of fate brought Lavender into football in the first place. He had finished his basketball eligibility at San Diego State, but needed another semester to finish his studies. He had heard that the football team needed cornerbacks, so he talked with Coach Don Coryell, and working with San Diego State teammates Bob Howard, Willie Buchanon and Nate Wright, Lavender became a cornerback.
He also went on to get a master's degree in criminal justice.
Lavender learned the finer points of playing the position the hard way. "I was put out there as a starter in Philadelphia," he said. "I learned in the battle."
Much of the Redskin effectiveness at cutting out the long gain against them this season comes from the knowledge that they don't have to think about stopping the run all of the time.
"We know the people up front will do that," Lavender said.
"The key to it all, however, has been Richie Petitbon," Lavender added, referring to the Redskins' secondary coach. "His coaching is a personal-type thing. He understands us and what we can do and we understand him and what, he wants done. He listens to us and we to him."
The Redskins brought in running back-kick returner Terry Anderson for a one-day tryout. Anderson was released by Miami.
The Lions announced yesterday that they were switching from veteran quarterback Greg Landry to third-year man Gary Danielson for Sunday's game.
"I don't look for them to change their game plan much, just because they changed quarterbacks," Pardee said. "In the past, they've called the plays for Danielson, though, and let Landry call his own."
Danielson threw two touchdown passes in the second half of the Lions 34-14 loss to Green Bay last week. Landry had thrown only one touchdown pass this season.