The Redskins received a better-than-expected injury report on Don Warren's fractured leg yesterday, but the second-year tight end, hurt in Friday's 11-6 loss in Tampa, has little chance of playing in the season opener against Dallas Sept. 8.
Apparently, Warren is not the only casualty from the Tampa Bay loss. Sources say that the Reskins will waive kick snapper Ted Fritsch and add a new snapper, probably by Monday. Coach Jack Pardee would not say if the decision had been made regarding Fritsch's future with the club after his nightmare showing in Friday's game.
Warren has a hairline fracture of the fibula in his leg. The injury is similar to the one suffered by defensiveend Jack Youngblood of the Rams during the playoffs last year.
"It really is a matter of how much soreness he can endure," Pardee said. "Youngblood played on his. But I think it is very questionable Don will play against Dallas. But he won't be out the three or four weeks we thought at first. He could be back much sooner."
Reserve tight end Phil DuBois, who bruised a kidney against the Bucs, also received a favorable report yesterday and Parde hopes he will be able to start against Dallas. If so, Washington will bring in only one new tight end, probably Grady Richardson, cut last Tuesday. If DuBois has a relapse, two players will have to be added to the roster.
Pardee said the rest of the Redskin injury report also was more encouraging than he had originally expected after Friday's game. But injuries will affect the club's final roster, which must be reduced to 45 by Monday's noon deadline.
Defensive end Mat Mendenhall, the team's No 2 draft choice, from Brigham Young, has what Pardee terms "an intestinal disorder." Look for Mendennall to be placed on injured reserve for the season, leaving Art Monk as the only draft selection to make the team.
Jerry Scanlan, the rookie free agent tackle from Hawaii, is likely to also wind up on injured reserve, leaving Fred Dean and Gary Anderson as the main offensive line reserves.
For the first time since camp began, Pardee said he might not carry three quarterbacks. "We've been known to start off with two and then later add another," he said. That means the release of either Kim McQuilken, who struggled against the Bucs, or Mike Kruczek, who didn't play in the game.
By cutting a quarterback now, Washington would open up roster space for an extra tight end, since Pardee won't put Warren on injured reserve. Once Warren is healthy, the quarterback could be brought back.
It is also probable that both Diron Talbert and Paul Smith have survived the test of age and younger players to make the final cut.
But the same repreive likely won't grace middle linebacker Don Hover. And with the surprise emergence of rookie Ricky Claitt as a running threat at fullback, Pardee is faced with the probability of either waiving veteran Bobby Hammond or creating roster space at some other position.
"It's going to be tough (to carry six backs)," he said. "All of them are contributing. Ricky Claitt keeps doing things. He's young and he has a lot to learn, but he makes things happen. He certainly is quick and explosive. You have to recognize his potential."
If Hammond is released, then the Redskins will need a new kickoff returner.
Claitt's development could free Clarence Harmon for some halfback duty. The Redskins could then afford to go with Buddy Hardeman and just one other halfback on the final roster.
"We are going to have to take some chances (with the roster) because of the injury situation," Pardee said. "We will be short some places and overloaded in others. Once everyone gets healthy, we can balance things out." o
The Redskins also have the alternative of waiving both Fritsch and center Dan Piffer and going with a new snapper plus Anderson who can play all the line positions, as backups to starter Bob Kuziel.
Pardee said he was not that displeased with his team's performance against Tampa Bay. "We did a lot of things right," he said. "But when we were awful, we were really awful."
"Take away the snaps and it wasn't all that discouraging. It was easy to tie down exactly what things were wrong. The bad times are when you are befuddled by your mistakes. This certainly wasn't the case.
"Joe Theimann played awfully well at quarterback, Monte Coleman had his best game at linebacker, Perry Brooks and Paul Smith were impressive. The line blocked well. I was please with our fullbacks."
Pardee's biggest concern, other than injuries, obviously is the kick-snapping situation. Fitsch, considered by his coaches the best in the business, has lapsed into a mysterious slump.
The team has run out of time, and Fritsch out of chances. With Dallas looming nine days ahead, Pardee can't risk having Fritsch's inconsistencies continue.
"We've done everything we could think of to help him," Pardee said. "It's time to move on to Dallas. We've got a lot of decisions to make in the next few days and you have to hope they are right."
"Really, our special teams played well. Mike Nelms averaged 20 yards a punt return, we covered well, we blocked some kicks."
And punter Mike Connell, making his debut after the waiving of Mike Bragg, unloaded some booming kicks in between chasing the high snaps. He averaged a fine 44.5 yards for four punts and kicked one 52 yards.
Although Jean Fugett is still unemployed, the Redskins have no intention of bringing him back, even as a temporary replacement for Warren at tight end. o
Warren had been having an excellent preseason and had emerged as one of the team's most sure-handed preceivers. But the Redskins also had given DuBois, Warren's college teammate at San Diego State, plenty of game time to develop him as a competent backup. Ironically, DuBois also is the backup to Fritsch at snapper, a chore that both Piffer and Kuziel also practice.
DuBois caught three passes in the preseason, all against Cleveland. A free agent last year, he appeared in 15 games but didn't have any receptions. He was waived early in the season but was brought back five days later.
"Warren might be able to do some things right away, but that is unlikely," Pardee said. "Youngblood played on his and did a fine job, but, of course he wasn't a tight end. Yet there are a lot of ways you can use a tight end in a game. We'll just have to see how Don progresses during the week."
Defensive end Joe Jones has a sprained ankle, but Pardee expects him to practice this week . . . Safety Tony Peters (groin pull) seems unlikely for Dallas, but Pardee says he plans to play linebacker Brad Dusek, who has missed all preseason games with a pulled hamstring. Linbacker Neal Olkewitz also should be back . . . Guard Jeff Williams saw his first exhibition work against the Bucs and came through the test okay . . . The Redskins have today off, then begin practicing for Dallas Monday. They may announce some cuts today.