With Billy Kilmer gone, Washington Redskin quarterback Joe Theismann said yesterday he felt as if a cloud had been removed from over his head.
"This game is about 80 percent mental," Theismann said after taking his physical at Redskin Park. "I guess you can say it's like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
"Now I don't have to worry as much about starting the next game or finishing this one. The fact that Billy is gone shows the coaching staff believes in me and has given me a note of confidence.
"It's difficult to place a feeling on Kilmer leaving. Had it happened at the beginning of last year I might have felt different. But I played last year. I finished as the No. 1 quarterback and I guess I have to feel like the job is mine until someone takes it away."
Also on the roster are quarterbacks Kim McQuilken, third string last year, and free agent Gary Valbuena.
"He's in a great position. We felt he's earned it and we have confidence in him," Coach Jack Pardee saif of Theismann. "Things change and it was time for a new step. We plan to work with what we have. We're not looking for any other quarterbacks.We've been pleased with Kim."
Pardee was all smiles yesterday as he prepared for a three-day minicamp that begins today. Approximately 37 players, mostly veterans, are expected.
One who will not be there is running back Mike Thomas. Pardee and General Manager Bobby Beathard said they had not heard from Thomas or his agent but had not given up on signing him to a contract this season.
"I've notified his agent by phone that I'm offering him a contract," said Beathard. "We haven't counted him out yet. We've tried to trade him but no teams have shown a big interest."
"We're not giving away any good football players. Mike has the ability to play but he has to come in here and work and earn the spot," added Pardee. "His job is open. Is someone works hard and earns the right to play he'll play. I'd like to see Mike come back. I haven't changed my opinion of him."
Theismann said last year "served as a learning year."
"For eight years I called my own plays. Last year was an adjustment," said Theismann. "This is the second year of the new system. Joe (offensive coordinator Joe Walton) and I will understand one another a litter better. Hopefully we'll have our minds on one track. When You get a coach's mind in a quarterback then you can look fro good results."
Theismann said he and Kilmer were not enemies, and, in fact, he tried to learn from the testy veteran.
"We never had harsh words. We never had a lot of words but never anything bad," said Theismann. "He helped me some. You'd be a fool if you didn't try to learn from someone who has been in the game longer. Everyone can learn.
"I want to improve my passing statistics, be more consistent and develop better field awareness, I guess you call it," said Theismann. "I don't look at my being called the No. 1 quarterback a lack of competition but rather a vote of confidence by the coaches. I plan to work just as hard and earn the spot. This is the first year I've felt totally confident coming to camp."
McQuilken, who joined the Redskins shortly after the season began last year, is also coming to camp confident.
"We're paid to play, not to sit. I feel I'll get a fair chance to prove itself," said McQuilken, who did not play a down for Washington in 1978. "I'm not conceding Joe the job. I'm much more confident in myself than I was a year ago." CAPTION: Picture, Joe Theismann