Running back Mike Thomas said yesterday he intends to return to action Monday night in Baltimore against the Colts. "The foot's a whole lot better," he said, "and I'm ready to roll.
Thomas has missed the last three games because of a small crack in a bone in his foot, an injury some people in the Redskin organization have insisted privately was not that serious. Thomas, they say, could have played. Bill Brundige, an injured teammate, said so publicly.
"Yeah, I know what people are saying, and they're entitled to their opinions," Thomas said. "But I don't worry about that stuff. Some of the things they've said have been stupid. What does Brundige know about this? I'm a grown man, I have to make decisions for myself based on what I think is best for myself.
"As long as you have that inner feeling about yourself, that you're doing what's in your best interest, you shouldn't have any problems. And that's how I feel. So talk is cheap, and it doesn't affect me at all.
"It hasn't put any pressure on me to do foolish things, and I believe it would have been foolish to play when I shouldn't play. I don't want to play football if I can't do the best I can. And I couldn't have played very well the way this foot felt.
"It's been damned depressing not being able to play. I've been tough to live with at home. Ask my wife. I didn't come here to sit, I came to play. So people can say whatever they want to say, I'll just let it go in one ear and out the other. It's my life, and I do what I think is best for Mike Thomas."
Redskin Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday that if Thomas can play he probably will be alternated with Tony Green and Benny Malone, both of whom made significant contributions in the Redskins' 38-20 victory Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers.
Informed of Pardee's remark, Thomas said, "I would prefer to play as much as possible, but if the man wants to shuttle, then that's what I'll do. He's in charge."
Pardee had other injuries more on his mind, specifically the damaged knees of starting right tackle George Starke and reserve offensive lineman Jim Harlan.
Starke partially tore the medial collateral ligament in his right knee and left knee, and Pardee said he hopes Harlan can recover in time to practice and play this week at Starke's position.
If Harlan can not play, Pardee said he probalby would use recently acquired Fred Dean with reserve center Ten Fritsch getting practice time at tackle for use in an emergency.
While Pardee concerned himself with juggling his offensive line, he no longer had to worry about the quarterback position. "I don't think we have to make a change there," Pardee deadpanned when asked if there was any doubt who he will start this week.
Still, Pardee became somber when he detailed the reasons for switching last week from Joe Theismann to Billy Kilmer, perhaps the most controversial decision he has made since becoming coach last January.
"The reason was that we wanted to beat the 49ers and to assume we'd beat them just because they didn't have a good record, I was just not about to do," Pardee said. "If we were sitting here this morning with a 6-3 record with three losses in a row, we'd have been a team really struggling.
"We appreciate the interest of everyone in Washington for the two quarterbacks and I certainly have confidence in both of them and all of the team has confidence in them. I just didn't want to end up 6-3.
"I wasn't concerned so much about 1980 or 1985 as I was about the last week in October and getting by the 49ers."
Pardee said he decided to switch to Kilmer only after talking to both quarterbacks last Wednesday.
"I wanted to see if Bill was comfortable with everything we were doing, if he felt he could come in with lack of playing time and execute well. After he thought he could do it, I certainly had faith in his ability to play and win.
"Once I was satisfied that he was comfortable, the decision was pretty well made for me. If we had decided to go back with Joe, I'd have felt comfortable with that. If Bill hadn't been so positive about everything, I would have stayed with Joe and Joe knows that. There's no mystery or no putdown to anyone.
"Joe wasn't playing so bad that he was the only thing wrong with us. But how do you get a little spark, what changes trigger that off?
"Joe knows I have confidence in him.And we're not worried about future seasons. Somebody's got to be responsible from day to day. Everybody on the team wants to win this year, this week. And that's my obligation to the team.
"The head coach is responsible to make decisions that are necessary to win. When things are going wrong, you can't hide your head and pretend it's not happening.
Pardee was asked if he thought the decision would have a devastating, longtime effect on Theismann.
"No," he said. "My impression from everything he's said and done is that he has confidence in himself, and I told him, and I'll keep telling him, that I have confidence in him. The quarterback is like all the other positions on the team - it's week to week.
"Either you believe in your players or you don't. If I didn't believe a player can play and win, I don't believe in having him here."
The Colts are listing quarterback Bert Jones as the starter in their program and depth charts, but Coach Ted Marchibroda said yesterday that Jones' status for Monday night was still a "day-to-day situation." Jones has a bruised right shoulder . . . The Redskins changed the alignment in their updated version of the 3-4 defense against the 49ers, putting Mike Curtis on the outside at right linebacker, with Chris Hanburger shifting inside. "We just thought Mike could blitz a little better from there," said the secondary coach, Rich Petitbon . . . Tight end Jean Fugett is expected to return to action after missing the 49er game with a sore knee. But Perdee said he will continue to give Reggie Haynes playing time . . . The Redskins' 7-2 mark is the best since the 1972 Super Bowl season . . . The Redskins' 22 touchdowns in nine games is three more than last year's total for the 14-game season . . . Their 186 points is second in the NFC to Green Bay's 188 . . . Redskin defense has allowed only four touchdown passes and a 47 percent completion rate.