The Redskins entered today's controlled work-out against the Colts hoping for some bright spots to perk up what has been a depressing week. And, thanks to the play of a few newcomers and a couple of revitalized veterans, they got their wish.
"We don't need a whole new team, just six or seven rookies and new players to fit in," Coach Jack Pardee said after the Colts salvaged a 13-10 triumph in the final part of the afternoon's exercise.
"I think I saw a few out there," Pardee continued. "That's the kind of progress we need."
Most of the eyecatchers were on the offensive squad, which might have to play this season without fullback John Riggins, now in a contract dispute with the team.
Two of the standouts were veteran running backs, former Giant Bobby Hammond, who scored the Redskins' only touchdown, and fullback Don Testerman, whose hopes to make the club depend heavily on whether Riggins returns.
But another fullback free agent Ricky Claitt, was even better than Testerman, in three carries, Claitt, from Bethune-Cookman, gained 23 yards, 12 on one impressive gallop. He also caught two passes for 15 yards.
"Ricky caught our eye last week against the Colts and he did it again," Pardee said. "He will have a chance to help us. He's come a long way in two weeks. That's really not a very long time."
Claitt, who is 5 feet 10 and weights about 210, has good acceleration, little speed. But the offensive coordinator, Joe Walton, complimented Claitt's blocking and his toughness.
"Ricky's getting into the flow of our offense," Walton said. "He's getting better and better."
Hammond joined the Redskins late last season but was used almost exclusively as a punt returner. He never felt comfortable in the club's offense and his name hardly was mentioned in preseason plans before training camp.
But that has changed. He started fast in camp and, off today's performance, has the Redskins envisioning him becoming another Buddy Hardeman: versatile, good runner, good receiver, adequate blocker.
"The type offense we use, what Buddy did for us last year, we'd like Bobby to do for us now," Pardee said, referring to Hardeman's 1979 third-down dependability. "I was pleased with the way Bobby moved out there. He had one chance to break it, but he's still not in top shape and he got a lot of work."
Hammond was satisfied that he had carried the ball seven times, for 24 yards, and caught two passes, for 16. In the earlier, passing-only drills, he pulled in five.
"My cuts are still not as sharp as they could be but I'm getting there," he said. "I need to find my rhythm, but the more I play, the more I'll feel comfortable.
"I was glad to play a lot. The more I do, the more I can show what I can do. You can't help yourself sitting and thinking about it. I think I can fit in here, the way they shuffle their backs. It keeps everyone strong." c
Hammond was a key factor in the Redskin touchdown drive, along with quarterback Kim McQuilken, whose passing helped his cause.
Washington moved 75 yards in 14 plays to score. Hammond had runs of three, eight (behind a fine block from guard Gary Anderson) and three yards, then two one-yard gains that picked up the final yards to the end zone. He also caught a six-yard pass from McQuilken to the six.
To add to his afternoon, he contributed the key block on a nine-yard Testerman gallop early in the march. Testerman wound up with 33 yards on seven carries.
Another standout play in that march came from rookie Zion McKinney, who is becoming more of a factor in a tight battle for the four receiver spots.
McQuilken's 12-yard pass to the sideline was high, but McKinney, a free agent from South Carolina, leaped and pulled it in while tapping his feet just inside the boundary stripe.
"He's always doing something to impress you," Pardee said. "He's just getting better and better, too."
McQuilken finished seven for 10 passing for 58 yards in the scrimmage. He was eight for 11 and 52 yards in the seven-on-seven passing drills.
It was important for him to look good, since the Redskins traded for Pittsburgh's Mike Kruczek this week after an unsteady performance by McQuiken last week against the Colts.
"Kim looked very good," Walton said. "He read his keys, he delivered the ball on time and he had command of the whole situation. It was just like he played in the second half last week."
"I did what I intended to do," said McQuilken, who realizes many people think Kruczek already has locked up the No. 2 quarterbacking spot. "I'm just trying to do my job as well as I can and let other people worry about who is going to play.
"I thought I threw well and the line came off the ball very well."
Kruczek is still learning the Redskin offense, but he received some work anyway. He completed half of his eight passes in the scrimmage, using plays provided by Walton.
For most of the scrimmage the Redskins used their young veterans and rookies. The Colts used first-line players half the time but still were unable to handle Washington with any consistency.
Quarterback Bert Jones, coming off a shoulder injury, completed four of six passes for 64 yards, with a fine TD toss of 19 yards to Roger Carr. But Jones struggled in the passing drills, missing his first eight before finishing eight for 19.
Redskin quarterback Joe Theismann was particularly impressive during the passing drills. He was 17 of 24 for 202 yards and two touchdowns before slumping to four for 12 in the 11-on-11 workout.
The Colts' other points in the scrimmage came on field goals of 37 and 48 yards by Randy Bielski, who is competing against former Maryland kicking star Steve Mike-Mayer.
Washington's Mark Moseley booted a 47-yarder with plenty to spare early in the scrimmage.
These teams now have a week to evaluate the results of today's scrimmage before meeting again Saturday in Baltimore in a preseaon opening game.
"We are making good progress," Pardee said. "We just need more work. But I like what I am seeing out there."