Veteran Redskins are grumbling about the length and intensity of practices, but Coach Jack Pardee thinks he sees the seeds of a good football team developing after two weeks of training camp.
"This is the toughest camp I've ever been in," said center Bob Kuziel.
"It hasn't been this rough since college," said tackle Terry Hermeling.
"It's tougher than anything George Allen ever had, especially the length," said safety Ken Houston, who added: "No veteran ever likes to hit this hard this early in camp."
But hitting has been the name of the game at Carlisle. The Redskins have baned away and then banged some more through two-a-day sessions that have had them on the field for as many as five total hours.
"We just couldn't come here and toss our hat in the ring and do things like before," Pardee said yesterday. "Not after the way we finished last season. We didn't do things well enough to not change.
"How can our young players learn to hit if they don't do it in practice? I know the veterans don't like it that much but I think they can see the results. They know those youngsters by name out there, not just by number.
"I can see a good football team developing out there, as long as we stay away from injuries. We've had a few but most haven't been the result of more hitting."
The veterans for the most part understand why this camp is so different from the past.
Before, Allen had a majority of seasoned players who did not have younger athletes pushing them for sports. There was no need to partake in such current routine drills as the nutcracker, a violent event that has a defensive lineman going one-on-one $&(WORD ILLEGIBLE against a blocker who is protecting an onrushing ball carrier.
"I can see what Jack is doing," Houston said. "He's got a lot of youngsters and in order to see what they are made of, they have to hit. They have to hit us to see who's better. It isn't fun, but it gives them a fair shot."
And it emphasizes another Pardee principal: competition. He wants every veteran aware that his position is not assured, that there is a young bruiser around willing and able to beat him out of a job.
"Before, the players here knew each other so well, that they didn't want to hit each other," Pardee said. "Now that has changed. How can you teach a linebacker to handle a cut block, for example, if he doesn't work on it in practice?
"I've been very pleased with how things have gone for the most part. We have intensity and aggressiveness. We keep telling them to rally around the ball and it's working.
"They want to win so I think they are willing to go along with what we are doing. I know I've been pleased with just about every vet's hustle."
After two weeks, these are some of the high points of the camp:
Quarterback Kim McQuilkin has seized every playing opportunity to impress the staff with his poise and throwing accuracy. He has maintained right along he is ready for regular duty: now he is starting to prove it.
The young linebackers are providing ample competition for the veterans. The staff eventually will have to decide how many of these youngsters they can afford to keep, but don't be surprised if such players as Rich Milot, Monte Coleman and Neal Olkewicz replace a few more experienced folks on this year's roster.
Cornerback Ray Waddy from Texas A&I has been a surprise. He had an interception in a scrimmage against the Colts a week ago and still drew praise from Pardee yesterday despite missing an open-field tackle that led to the Colts' only touchdown Saturday in another scrimmage.
Despite injuries, the offensive line has dominated the defense for the most part. Converted guard Jeff Williams made a lasting impression by besting Dave Butz in a nutcracker drill last week.
But there also have been disappointments:
Pardee thinks the team has to work on its open-field tackling, which was poor against the Colts.
The receiving corps is still far from settled. "We can go deep, like last year," he said, "but we still have to show we can complete that third-down-and-long pass, something we had trouble with last year. I knew it would take time and it has."
Depth along the defensive line, now that defensive tackle Perry Brooks is out three weeks with an arm injury, is questionable. Pardee said that such veterans as Diron Talbert would play in the exhibition games. He also said Paul Smith, a former Pro Bowl end with Denver, is progressing well as a backup tackle.
"He will get more time," Pardee said. "We also will use Karl Lorch some at tackle. "We had planned on working with a pass rush front anyway that included Coy Bacon, Joe Jones, Lorch and Perry Brooks."
Pardee received some good news yesterday. Guard Dan Nugent, who is in traction at Sibley Memorial Hospital, told Pardee that his lower back felt better and that doctors were encouraged by his progress.
"By staying off of it, it seems to be doing him some good," Pardee said. "Maybe we can get him back in a week. With him and Jim Harlan (spine injury) both out, that hurt us along the line."
This week will be tailored to more individual drills. Pardee said there would be some cuts and that young runners like Buddy Hardeman and Mike Jones might be switched to halfback from fullback "to give us a little more speed at that spot." Jones, another camp surprise, had a particularly impressive outing in Saturday's scrimmage.
"I just feel so much better about our offensive front," Pardee said. "It's better now than we could have imagined before camp."
And that is without Nugent, who was being counted on as an anchor at guard. In his absence, Williams is methodically earning a starting spot.
"We are all anxious to get into some games and see what happens," Pardee said. "We just have to keep improving."