Mike Curtis says Baltimore Colt quarterback Bert Jones is a good friend, that he respects his ability and admires his style. But do not expect Curtis to hold back if he gets a chance to bury Jones on Monday night, even if his friend does have a sore right shoulder.
"If the man is able to play, then he's able to receive anything he gets," the Redskin linebacker said yesterday.
"If by chance he's not ready to play, then they shouldn't play him. But if he's out on the field, he's fair game."
The Redskins expect Jones to be playing Monday night, but Curtis has no idea whether he will have the opportunity to be part of the action. He will play only if there is an injury, or if the Redskins again use the 3-4 defense they resurrected last week against the 49ers.
Redskin Coach Jack Pardee said there was a possibility of using the four-linebacker defense against the Colts, but "in their division, everybody runs it, so they're pretty used to blocking it and seeing it.
"It wouldn't be as much as a surprise factor against them as it was last week. We also went to it because their (the 49ers) center went out with an injury and we wanted to keep somebody on the nose of the new man. It also gave up some match-ups we wanted.
"We'll have it available against Baltimore, but whether we use it depends on what they're doing."
Against San Francisco, the defense worked splendidly. The Redskins used the 3-4 10 times,with Curtis lined up as an outside linebacker. He was credited with a critical sack, and there were five incomplete passes and four 49er gains of two yards or less.
Curtis did not expect to play against the 49ers. "We only practiced it twice all week," he said.
For Curtis, this has been a season of frustration. The Redskins talked during training camp of making extensive use of the 3-4, only to abandon it after the second regular season game.
"I had missed some tackles during the preseason," Curtis said. "I also don't think a lot of people knew how to play the defense and some of the guys weren't really enthusiastic about playing it. There are a lot of adjustments people have to make, and Pardee wanted to cut back mistakes.
"It's a change from what people were used to and it's difficult defense to audibilize. You can't do it as fast as you can in the 4-3. There are ways to do it, but they don't come second nature right now."
Before the 49ers, Curtis spent the previous six games watching from the bench, trying to stay in shape, and wondering if he'd ever have a chance to play again this season.
"I really hope that next year they do put the 3-4 in and keep it in like they planned to this season" he said, "I just ate to feel physiccally wasted. You always feel like you should be playing, but the coach makes the decision and you wait until you get the chance. I does get frustrating."
It would be frustrating for Curtis to sit this week against a Colt team that employed him for 11 glorious seasons, although he insisted yesterday the game against his old team is not as special as it was a year ago.
"Last year was the first time I had played played against them since they released me (in 1976)," Curtis said, "So I was kind of keyed up. This year, there's nothing really special about it. They're just another team to me now.
"Obviously, if I do play, I want to play well. I still live in Towson, I have a lot of friends in the area and a lot of friends on the Colts, players and coaches."
His friendship with Jones didn't prevented a nasty kicking incident between the two during the last year's Monday night game in Baltimore. Curtis and Jones played footsie with each other that night, after the Redskin linebacker had made a tackle.
"He kicked me on the ground and I didn't really appreciate it," Curtis said. "I actually didn't hit him that hard. I could have knocked his teeth out, but I kind of held back on him. Why? Oh, I don't really know. Maybe I didn't want to hurt him.
"Maybe I'm mellowing a little."
After all, what are friends for?
Tackle Jim Harlan missed another practice and Pardee said, "We have to plan on playing without him now." That would mean second-year man Fred Dean, acquired only three weeks ago off the waiver list, probably will start a right tackle Monday night in place of injured George Starke Pardee may also activate Jeff Williams, like rejoined the team this week . . . John Riggins missed a good portion of practice yesterday with a sore hip, but said he would be able to play against Baltimore . . . Rookie linebacker Don Hover limped off the field with a sprained ankle, but is expected to play . . . Team photographer Nate Fine finally got sweet revenge yesterday for all the times he has been hit by flying footballs throws by Jake Scott as he filmed practice from his 30-foot tower . . . Fine poured honey in Scott's street shoes, and the Redskin safety was not pleased. Just a little sticky.
'79 Preseason Slate
The Redskins will play only one preseason game at home next summer. They will open the exhibition schedule at Tampa Bay, followed by away games at Denver and Atlanta. They will return home to meet Cleveland for the preseason final.
The Redskins do not make it mandatory for season ticket-holders to purchase exhibition-game tickets. The Redskins have not done well at the gate for exhibitions since the players strike in 1974. The three read games should provide better paydays, according to General Manager Bobby Heathard.