Billy Kilmer did most of the quarterbacking at Redskin practice yesterday, pointing to a possible switch, at the position for Sunday's game against the San Francisco 49ers at RFK Stadium.
Both Kilmer and incumbent Joe Theismann chose not to comment on the quarterbacking situation, and all Coach Jack Pardee would say was, "They split the time and we're getting them both ready."
The time was "split," yesterday, but not evenly. Kilmer got most of the work, directing the offense approximately 75 percent of the time. Kilmer also was the first quarterback up in both the seven-one-seven and 11-on-11 drills.
It is understandable that Kilmer would get a lot of work, since he has thrown only two passes in game situations all season and both of those were in St. Louis against the Cardinals six weeks ago.
Still, in the past with the Redskins, and on most teams, the quarterback who gets most of the work during the week is the one who starts Sunday.
Work was the word at Redskins Park yesterday, too, as the team stayed out nearly three hours. All three quarterbacks, Kilmer, Theisman and Kim McQuilken, stayed even longer throwing passes.
Both Kilmer and Theismann threw well, although their receives did not always hold onto the football.
"We extended practice awhile today because the 49ers do a lot of things that we have to prepare for," Pardee said.
Pardee said he will not make any announcement on who the quarterback will be Sunday. That is the same approach he used before the season started when Kilmer and Theismann were competing for the job.
Most players said it didn't make that much difference who the quarterback is.
"We don't have a say in the decision anyway, so why worry about it?" one player said.
"When teams lose, the first place you go is to the quarterback and when it wins you go to him, too," tight end Jean Fugett, said. "Besides the center, he's the only one who touches the ball every play, and as a result his job gets blown way out of proportion.
"I've been playing long enough to realize that it is not my job to second-guess personnel decisions," Fugett said. "My job is to play tight end as best I can."
Most players said a decision on who would start as quarterback has not been made.
Some felt Theismann would start but wouldn't last long if he failed to put points on the board, but after Kilmer got most of the work yesterday, some of them hinted Kilmer may be the man.
Fugett and one other starter, running back Mike Thomas, did not practice yesterday. Thomas is still bothered by a sprained foot and Fugett had a cyst on his leg drained.
Fugett is expected to practice today, while Thomas, who has missed the last two games, is still on a day-to-day basis.
"His foot is better, though," Pardee said of Thomas. "We'll just have to wait and see like we have been doing."
Tony Green and Benny Malone got most of the work in Thomas' halfback spot. Pardee said Malone, who joined the team two weeks ago, is ready to carry the bail from scrimmage.
Malone came to the Redskins from the Miami Dolphins with a sprained ankle. The combination of the injury and his having to learn a new system has limited him to only special-team duty.
Malone showed some of the explosiveness yesterday that made him such a feared runner when he was a Dolphin.
"Benny looked the best he has so far," Pardee said. "He's learning the system well and his foot seems to be better. I think he is ready to start carrying the ball."
Malone echoed the feeling.
"I'm feeling a lot better and I think I have the system down pretty good now," Malone said.
Tackle Terry Hermelling is still bothered by a sprained knee, but he practiced yesterday.
Pardee called the 49ers "a scary team," despite their 1-7 record. "Whenever a team has an O.J. Simpson . . . it is a scary team," Pardee said. "The thing that has hurt them so far is mistakes: That's what happens to young teams."
The 49ers are one of the youngest teams in the National Football League. They have 16 rookies, seven players with one year's experience and eight with only two years' experience.
Their quarterback, second-year man Steve DeBerg, is the lowest rated passer of all the starters in the NFC, 38.4. He has been intercepted 16 times, the highest figure in the NFL.
Two former Redskins, wide receiver Larry Jones and linebacker Joe Harris, are key 49ers now. Harris is a starting outside linebacker and Jones is the eighth best punt returner in the NFC.
Yesterday was also Gerard Williams' first heavy workout as the Redskin left cornerback starter.
Williams, who started 11 games for the injured Pat Fischer last season, is taking the place of Lemar Parrish, who broke his arm last Sunday against the Giants.
"I have a lot of confidence in Gerard, but not having Lemar hurts us in a number of ways," Pardee said.
"For one, Lemar is one of the top cornerbacks in the league, so we did a lot of things where he was left out on his own. That opened up a lot of other things for us. We won't be able to do that as much with Gerard.
"Gerard was also our nickel back, and we've had to make a change there, too, going to Donnie Harris in that position, so that hurts our depth.
"We'll just have to do the best we can in all departments this week and every week. If we do, we'll be okay. If we don't, we're going to be disappointed."