Kim McQuilken was calling signals at quarterback yesterday with a lineup that included placekicker Mark Mosely at center, punter Mike Bragg lined up at tailback and safety Mark Murphy running patterns from the tight-end position.
No, Jack Pardee did not go bonkers in the rain at Redskin Park. McQuilken simply was running the Cardinal offense for the Redskins' first-team defense, trying to give his best imitation of Jim Hart.
McQuilken has become a master impressionist.He's portrayed Bert Jones (not a bad actor himself, according to Pardee) and next week will take snaps from the shotgun just like Roger Stauback. Who knows? He may even wear glasses before the Dolphin game, the better to look like Bob Griese.
McQuilken, 27, accepts his fate as the Redskins' No. 3 quarterback with as much grace and class as the situation allows. He has not complained yet, even if he is the only man on the 45-man roster not to have played a minute from scrimmage this season.
"For now, I can live with it, but I'll never accept it," McQuilken said yesterday. "All I can do is work as hard as I can to get out of the situation, and when I get the chance, I have to take advantage of it.
"Every day you go to practice it's tough. But the positive thing is I went from being the oldest in seniority of all the quarterbacks in Atlanta and not playing to where I'm still not playing, but all of a sudden I'm the youngest quarterback, we're in first place and I can see a little daylight."
With the Falcons, a third-round draft pick from Lehigh in 1974, McQuilken mostly saw darkness. In four years, he played under four head coaches. "My second year, when I started eight games, I was making up the game plans as much as anyone," he said.
"We only had two assistants on offense because some of the coaches resigned during the year. t was a grabbag system that wasn't very good for productivity. That's not an excuse, but this situation has to be a whole lot better."
Last summer in the Falcon camp, McQuilken found himself in an intolerable situation, destined for another year of backup work. He asked to be traded, but instead was released in the first week of the regular season.
It was, he says now, "the best thing that ever happened to me," even if his Redskin teammates persist in calling him "April." June Jones was the man playing ahead of him in Atlanta.
One of the first calls he received came from Redskin General Manager Bobby Beathard. "I really liked him an awful lot out of college," Beathard said. "I don't know everything that happened in Atlanta, but I do know Kim is intelligent, has an excellent arm and is a good athlete.
"We've also got a lot to find out about him, and that probably won't happen until traning camp next year. Coming in as late as he did, he realized that he'd be in a backup role here.
"He's looking at the future. Billy's (Kilmer) age is a factor, obviously, and there's going to be a spot opening here. I really do think the guy can play, and I have a feeling he's going to be a good quarterback."
So does McQuilken.
"Sure, I looked at it more long term than short term," he said. "But I also know that things happen awful fast. I went from No. 3 to No. 1 in Atlanta overnight several times. If you just hang in there and plug along, eventually you get your chance.
"This is also the first time I've had a chance to work with an older quarterback. I hope Billy doesn't retire. I want to learn as much from him as I can. He's been great to me, on and off the field in every respect. I learn from him every day. Joe and I get along great, too; it's a good relationship, definitely."
There are days, however, his relationship with the defense is not all that spectacular. He is teased constantly about completing too many passes during the defensive drills, "but I take that seriously.
"I want my guys to break the huddle right. I don't want anybody jumping outside. I want to do things the right way. This is when I go to work. I'm also trying to give the best picture possible. That's how I contribute. If I can't play Sunday, at least I can help prepare the guys who do.
"If I had to, sure I could play. I don't know the offense as well as I would have if I had been through a training camp. I told Joe Walton (the offensive coordinator) I'd be happy to earn my letter this year."
I've learned an awful lot being here, but I hate to say this year is a sabbatical. I think it's a very important phase in my career.
"I'm also not completely giving up on playing this year.Every time I go to a game I'm thinking about ways for me to get in there. Kilmer said to me a few years ago that you always have to be ready and it made a lasting impression on me.
"So I'm ready. And I'm a patient man. I'll get my chance."
John Riggins missed another day of practice because of a sprained ankle and Jack Pardee described the fullback's status as "very doubtful" for the Cardinals Sunday. Riggins, however, said "I have a good feeling about Sunday. I've still got two days left, and I think it'll be all right. I don't think I'd take a shot for it. If I did that, I probably wouldn't be in any shape to play against Dallas" . . . Tight end Jean Fuggett participated in the entire workout despite a sore knee and Pardee said he hoped Fuggett would be available to play. Pardee still may start Reggie Haynes . . . Center Ted Fritsch practiced some snaps, and may also be available against St. Louis, broken ribs and all.