The Redskins had one of their best practices yesterday. No one stubbed a toe, tripped on a crack in the sidewalk or fell on the way to the locker room. Every player was as healthy following the workout as he had been preceding it.
"That's pretty unusual for us," Coach Jack Pardee said after he had put the club through a light, 90-minute session at Redskin Park. It was the players' first day on the job following the victory over New Orleans, and they concentrated on individual activities such as running and weight lifting. They will get down to heavy preparation today for the Minnesota Vikings, who visit RFK Stadium Sunday.
Even the official injury report to be released today should be relatively cheerful. After looking like the waiting list for season tickets most of the year, there will be few names on it. And the injury causing most concern, that to guard Jeff Williams, may not be as serious as first feared.
Williams, generally regarded as the team's best offensive lineman, was admitted to Sibley Hospital late Sunday with a deep thigh bruise. He remains there for treatment, but apparently has improved considerably.
"He's definitely getting better," Pardee said. "We want to make sure nothing happens to disturb his leg. Obviously we don't know yet, but we're definitely not ruling him out for Sunday."
If Williams can't make play, he will be replaced by Dan Nugent, who went in against New Orleans when the third-year pro from Rhode Island pinched a nerve in his neck late in that game. Nugent's backup will be Fred Dean, who replaced tackle Terry Hermeling Sunday. Hermeling was fitted with a soft cast following an operation on his thumb and will be ready to start against the Vikings.
"I think there's only been one week this year when we haven't had somebody out," Pardee said. "I know Dan and Fred can do the job, but I want to have as many players available as possible. It helps our continuity to be able to use the same guys, although Jeff knows the plays well enough so that we should be able to adjust even if we find out he's playing right before the game."
Pardee, however temporarily, enjoyed the luxury yesterday of trying to decide how he was going to employ his suddenly healthy players. Fullbacks Buddy Hardeman and Clarence Harmon showed no ill effects after aggravating previous ankle problems Sunday, nor did defensive end Coy Bacon seem bothered by the knee he aggravated against the Saints.
"We've been making the big plays lately, especially on defense," Pardee said. The Redskins lead the NFL in pass defense and are tied with Pittsburgh for the lead in interceptions with 17.
"We've also been keeping the bad plays to a minimum, which is what we need to do to win. Now we just need to figure out how to score touchdowns."
Having Williams back might be a start.