The roster shuffle continued yesterday as the Redskins added running back Lonnie Perrin, brought back wide receiver John McDaniel, placed running back Ike Forte on injured reserve and cut rookie receiver Kris Haines.
The acquisition off waivers of Perrin, a former McKinley High star, was not unexpected. The Redskins brought him in for a one-day tryout last week after he was released by Denver and were impressed with him. When Forte hurt his back Sunday and Benny Malone came up with a sore leg, the club felt it needed to bolster its backfield.
McDaniel's return, however, was a surprise. He had been released two weeks ago, when the Redskins cut their roster to 50 players. At that time, team sources said his inability to hold onto passes made him expendable, despite a good 1978 season with the club.
But Washington found itself in a precarious position at the receiver spot. Only starters Danny Buggs and Ricky Thompson had NFL experience and the coaches felt their backups, Haines and rookie Chris DeFrance, were not ready to see extensive game experience.
"Sunday, when people start to go down with heat cramps, we got in a position where we might have had problems if either Danny or Ricky went down," said Coach Jack Pardee. "Training camp is over. We extended the learning process as long as we could for Kris (Haines) and we just had to move on.
With DeFrance just joining the team, he wasn't ready, either. John McDaniel knows our system and he can fit right in."
Pardee said that McDaniel, who was hampered by sore legs in camp, has told the Redskins he feels physically okay now.Asked if healthy legs will improve his hands, Pardee said:
"Yes, I think you notice someone's hands going before their legs. But really, the legs can cause the hands. You are working so hard to generate speed that it hurts your concentration.
"John gave us six excellent games last year. He beat Detroit for us. We were in a spot where we need help now."
For Perrin, it was an exciting homecoming after a disappointing summer in Denver, where he was unable to hold onto a roster spot he won three years ago as a rookie.
He tried not to sound bitter about being cut -- "I don't want to sound negative" -- but the experience obviously hurt him, since he had led the Broncos in rushing last season (455 yards) and was No. 2 in 1977 (456).
"It's just a shame when personality conflicts get in the way of judging talent," he said. "Coach (Red) Miller told me that I hand't lived up to his expectations. I don't know what they wanted. I led in rushing. Maybe they wanted me to lead the NFL in rushing.
"When you are only carrying the ball nine, 10 or 11 times a game, it's tough to be really outstanding. I just know there weren't six other backs better than me in that camp."
Perrin had one of those versatile careers for Denver that rarely are duplicated in this age of specialists in the NFL. Besides being the club's top runner, he kicked off the last three years and was the Bronco kickoff return man. In a pinch, he still can boot field goals.
With Mark Moseley nursing a sore leg, Perrin can always be used as a substitute. He also can play running back positions and Pardee considers him a capable receiver. He still can run a 4.6 40, despite weighing 220 pounds, and it is little wonder that General Manager Bobby Beathard thought the team couldn't hesitate to sign him.
"Other teams were starting to press him and we figured if we didn't make up our mind this week, it would be too late," said Beathard.
"We liked what we saw last week and I've always liked Lonnie. He's got a lot of ability and he is a big back. For this team, he is a good addition."
The fact that other teams were seeking Perrin's services was a boost to the athlete, who began wondering after leaving Denver "whether I really could play anymore. Maybe I was overrating myself. But when teams started to call, it helped me. I figured I had to have some ability to get that kind of interest."
Pardee said the Redskins will start Perrin as a fullback, the spot he played at Denver until he was switched this summer to halfback.
"He is big enough to handle some of the blocks we want our fullbacks to do," said Pardee. "We don't want to give him too much at first, although he is capable of playing both spots.
"With Ike out and Benny hurting, we need to work Clarence Harmon more at halfback. In the long run that will help us. We want to go with the backs who are hot that day. If both Clarence and John (Riggins) are doing well, then this will help us to play them together."
Harmon, the quiet third-year man from Mississippi State, is forcing the coaches to give him more playing time iwth his consistent performances. He started ahead of Riggins against Houston and most likely will see considerable action at both fullback and halfback on Sunday against Detroit.
With Malone not participating in most of the drills yesterday, Harmon was running at the No. 1 halfback position. But Pardee said he expected Malone to "be as good as he has been" by the end of the week.
Forte, who had a good training camp as a runner, also will be missed on special teams, where he was a top performer. He will not be eligible to return for at least four games. At that point the club could try to activate him either by putting him through waivers or using one of their three allowed moves off the injured list.
For now, however, the Redskins are anxious to take a good look at Perrin, who, according to Fred O'Connor, coach of the runnings backs, "has the physical presence that can exite you, especially when a guy that big runs so fast and with such agility."
Bobby Mitchell, a longtime friend of Perrin, said he told the running back "he better decide to sign with us and stop hesitating or 'I'd come over and talk to him. No, seriously, he can help us. He's a good kid and he is still young."
Perrin attended Mitchell's alma mater, Illinois, where injuries cut into his performance until his senior year, when he gained 907 yards, enough to have the Broncos draft him on the fifth round.
"I always wanted to play here, ever since I used to sneak into the stadium to watch Bobby and Sonny and the rest play," Perrin said. "That's why I'm not that unhappy with how things have turned out. Instead, I'm delighted.