The Redskins gave up on offensive guard Donnie Hickman yesterday, cutting him from the roster in a decision Jack Pardee strongly hinted was based more on attitude than ability.
"I thought Donnie could play and I like his ability," Pardee said, "but there's more to football, team football, than having ability. He wasn't happy in his situation and he wasn't helping the team. So we accommodated both sides."
The Redskins filled the vacancy on their 45-man roster with another young offensive lineman Pardee coached last year in Chicago. Fred Dean, 23 and a second-year guard/tackle from Texas Southern, came to Redskin Park yesterday, had a brief tryout, and was signed.
Hickman has been obtained last summer from the Los Angeles Rams in the controversial trade for return specialist Eddie Brown. He was used as a backup, but had not played the last three weeks.
Ironically, all three players involved in the deal are now on the sidelines. Tackle Jeff Williams came east with Hickman and quit the Redskins a week after reporting. Brown suffered a knee injury during the preseason and was placed on injured reserve for the year.
The Redskins did receive three draft choices in the trade - a third-round pick in 1979 and second and fifth-round picks in the 1980 draft, and Washington General Manager Bobby Beathard insisted yesterday, "It's still a good trade for us.
"With those kinds of draft choices, sure the trade is a success. I have no second thoughts on it at all. I just wish it had worked out better."
Neither Pardee nor Beathard would elaborate on the specific reasons for their disenchantment with Hickman, but several Redskins said they were not surprised by the move, and were somewhat relieved."
They said Hickman had been arriving late for meetings and practices, that he sulked over lack of playing time and that he was not performing to his capabilities in practice.
"All they told me was that they didn't want me around anymore," Hickman said yesterday, "and only God in heaven knows why, because I sure don't.
"I haven't played in the last three games, not since the St. Louis game, so I know it couldn't have been because I was playing bad. I'm not even on the special teams. I was the only guy on the team who practiced every day and didn't play.
"And I work as hard or harder than 85 percent of the people out there. I don't care what anybody says. So it's a mystery to me. I just hope I can get picked up somewhere else."
Dean, meanwhile, was originally signed as a free agent by Beathard for the Dolphins. He was cut by Miami before the start of 1977 season, was signed by Chicago later in the season and was on the active roster for the Bear's last four games.
He was among the last players cut by the Bears this season and had several tryouts around the league before signing with the Redskins.
"He can play special teams, guard and tackle," Pardee said of Dean, a 6-foot-3, 253-pounder. "He can help us more as a team man right now."
Pardee is also looking for more help this week from running back Benny Malone and wide receiver Danny Buggs.
The Redskins held their first workout of the week yesterday, and Buggs (separated shoulder) and Malone (sprained ankle) said they should be able to play Sunday against the Giants.
Mike Thomas also was talking confidently, even though he did not participate in yesterday's brief 45-minute workout because of the sore right foot that kept him out of the Eagle game.
"I'll run on my own a little tomorrow (Wednesday)," Thomas said, "and hopefully I'll be able to practice on Thursday. Yeah, I think I'll be able to play this week."
As Thomas spoke, defensive end Coy Bacon couldn't help but overhear the conversation. "If he don't play, I'll get my stick," Bacon bellowed, laughing. "He'll either play Sunday or he won't play anywhere. He'll retire."
Buggs, who suffered a separated shoulder against the New York Jets and has missed the last three games, said he felt good "eveywhere except in the lungs. I'm just happy to be back. It's been rough just sitting and watching.
"The shoulder is a little stiff, but I've got a full mobility with it. You always want to get that first lick to see how it feels, but I'm not worried about it. I'm just trying to go full speed and whatever happens, happens.
"You start worrying about getting hurt, you lose your concentration in blocking and catching. I can't afford to do that."
The Redskins mostly walked through their offensive drills yesterday, but it was obvious that Malone has improved physically since he arrived last week. "It's still not 100 percent," he said, "but by the end of the week I should be all right."
Malone spent an extra 30 minutes on the practice field after most of his teammates had gone in to shower, working on handoff exchanges, pass routes and blocking assignments. He also worked overtime in the classroom with Backfield Coach George Dickson for a crash course in the Rdskin offense.
"He's making a very fast improvement of his injury," Pardee said, "and he's picking up the offense real well, too. Oh, yeah, if he's healthy,he's going to play."
The Redskins broke out George Allen's old punting machine to give returner Tony Green some extra practice. The machine was, as usual, totally erratic, firing off a 90-yarder, followed by an eight-yard wobbly duck . . . Fullback John Riggins watched today's workout because of a sprained toe, but said he would be back in practice today.