Instead of Redskin Park, the setting could have been Washington's summer training camp at Carlisle, Pa. -- that's how fundamental some portions of Redskin practices have been this week as the club attempts to give its revamped offensive line five weeks of training in one week's time.
Coach Jack Pardee already is committed to going with tackles Gary Anderson and Fred Dean. Both are good blockers for the rush. Neither has started a pro game at that spot. And even if tight end Don Warren can play Sunday against Oakland, he will not be able to go full-time, forcing the Redskins to give considerable playing time to Rick Walker, who joined the club last Friday off the Cincinnati Bengals' waiver list.
That means that the outside portion of the Redskins' strong-side rush blocking will have new personnel on many plays. And it means that Oakland's veteran pass rushers, including huge John Matuszak and veteran Cedrick Hardman, will be working on Dean, a guard prior to this season, and Anderson, who hasn't played tackle since leaving Stanford four years ago.
"I've got 90 percent of the offense down," Walker said yesterday. "But the snap count is still giving me trouble."
"I'm picking things up real fast, but it's still a new position," said Anderson. "The pass protection techniques are the big difference. I'm just working really hard at trying to be ready."
Dean has had the fewest problems, mainly because he was moved from guard to backup tackle at training camp and had time to work on learning his new position. The Redskins were excited enough about his performance at tackle that they no longer considered depth at the spot a major problem.
But that was before both Terry Hermeling and George Starke were hurt Sunday against the Giants. Starke is out three to four weeks with strained knee ligaments. Hermeling has a sprained knee and ran lightly at practice yesterday. But Pardee said, "The best we can count on him right now is spot duty and just being available for emergencies. We have to hope we won't have to use him but it will be good to know if he can play." him but it will be good to know if he can play."
Pardee and his staff are talking optimistically about how the offensive line will play. They really have no other choice; if the line collapses in the face of Oakland's physical defense, Washington has little chance of winning.
The Redskins are looking for Dean to produce a starter-like game Sunday. The coaches think the 6-foot-3, 253 pound, fourth-year man from Texas Southern eventually could be a first-stringer at either tackle or guard, and this contest will give them a good look at his progress.
"Freddie keeps improving every year," said Ray Callahan, offensive line coach. "I don't really worry about him. I'm sure he can step in and do one heck of a job."
Callahan has been working overtime with Anderson in an attempt to make up for a lot of lost days. Anderson has stayed out every afternoon after practice, going over his pass protection under the close watch of his coach.
"Gary is a good learner and he's working very hard," Callahan said. "He's a good athlete and he wants to play. He's coming along. I think he'll do a good job. Fortunately, he played two years of tackle in college, so it's not a completely foreign position."
But there is a good deal of difference between playing tackle in college and in the professional ranks -- and, for that matter, between playing pro guard and pro tackle, particularly when it comes to pass protection.
"The tackle is like on an island by himself," Callahan said. "He doesn't really get any inside help. He's one on one against the end, and he has to be concerned about the outside pass rush, something that a guard doesn't worry about. And a guard has more congestion around him, more help. There are just different techniques involved."
Anderson, 6-4, 260 pounds and in his third year, has overcome significant odds just to make the roster. He had to beat out former starter Dan Nugent for backup guard after spending nearly the last two years on injured reserve, first with New Orleans in 1978 and then with Washington in 1979. He was Detroit's 10th-round pick in 1977 and played 13 games.
Now he gets his first pro tackle start against the likes of ex-Redskin Matuszak, the towering 6-8, 280-pound roughneck. And on passing downs, the Raiders send in quick Willie Jones for a change of pace.
"It just feels good getting a start," said Anderson, who lives in Northern California and bought 38 tickets (cost: $530) for the game. "It's been a long time. I started a few games with Detroit and it was something."
Guard Jeff Williams said, "Trying to get the pass protection differences down is the hardest thing. It will really help him if we can get our running game going. Then it will take the pressure off. They'll have to guess what we are doing. Otherwise, they can line up and really take off."
A decent running game also will help Walker, a 6-4, 235-pound UCLA product who played wide receiver in college. Walker has impressed the Redskins with his size and quickness, but they'd rather not have to put him in pressure receiving situations so soon after his arrival.
"He's got experience in the league (fourth year) and he's going to help us," said John Hilton, assistant coach. "He's really quick off the line. He can play in this league. Maybe he'll benefit from being in the right place at the right time."
Pardee yesterday expressed concern over the health of cornerback Lemar Parrish, who is bothered by foot and shoulder problems. "I don't know how much Lemar will be able to play," Pardee said. "We'll have to use Jeris White in there with him a lot. We'll spot both of them" . . . Warren again did not work out at full speed, but Pardee hopes he will be able to practice today.