Joe Theismann's pulled hamstring is not responding as quickly to treatment as it did last week and it seems likely that Mike Kruczek will start at quarterback for the Redskins Sunday against Atlanta and possibly for the rest of the season.
Washington also made a roster move yesterday, picking up Tom Banks, 32, who can play center and guard, off waivers. Banks, four times an all-pro in his nine-year career, was released last week by St. Louis. He had been injured and was involved in a contract dispute.
Redskin Coach Jack Pardee does not think Banks, in the option year of his contract, will have any contract difficulties with Washington. Two weeks ago, the Redskins claimed Houston's Curley Culp, then let him go 24 hours later when they could not agree on a contract.
To make room for Banks, the Redskins put offensive lineman Fred Dean, who suffered a knee injury in Sunday's 14-10 loss to Dallas, on injured reserve.
Kruczek was shaky in relief of Theismann Sunday and expressed concern yesterday that the coaches did not have confidence in him. But Pardee said that he has gambled the entire season by overemphasizing Theismann's game preparation and cutting Kruczek's to a minimum. Pardee admitted that approach backfired against the Cowboys when he didn't feel Kruczek could handle the entire Redskin offense and Washington drastically cut back on its passing attempts.
Theismann reinjured the hamstring in the game. Both Theismann and Pardee said the latest pull was worse than last week's. Some team sources feel that Theismann could miss a number of games, possibly the remaining four on the schedule. Pardee refused, however, to rule out the possibility that Theismann would start, citing Theismann's history of healing quickly.
Pardee is seriously considering signing quarterback Kim McQuilken, who was released in training camp after serving as Theismann's backup the previous two seasons.
"We will see how Joe is by late Tuesday or Wednesday and then decide to make a move," Pardee said. "If Joe isn't coming along, we'll need a third quarterback and Kim is the best candidate. He is familiar enough with the offense that he hasn't forgotten too much of it since he left."
If McQuilken is signed, the Redskins will have to find roster space. With the acquisition of Banks, the team now has four centers; veteran Dan Peiffer is a likely candidate for release. If McQuilken is not brought back, then Pardee probably will activate rookie tackle Jerry Scanlan to help his line depth.
Dean, who suffered partially torn ligaments against the Cowboys, has been a starter at both guard and tackle most of the season. Terry Hermeling, whom he replaced at tackle, will resume his first-string duties.
Pardee has been impressed with Banks in the Redskin games against the Cardinals. "He had a leg injury but he is fine now and we think he has a few good years left in him. He has been in the Pro Bowl four times and you like to have those kind of players.
"We think he is a better center than guard and he'll probably be used as a center for us." Bob Kuziel, 30, is the Redskins' No 1 center.
Banks, 6 feet 2 and 245 pounds, was named all-NFC center by some organizations last year. He long has been the anchor of the Cardinal line, the best in the conference until decimated by injuries and trades.
At this point last week, Pardee ruled out any possibility of picking up an extra quarterback. But last week Theismann could almost touch his toes the day after the injury. Yesterday, he barely could get his hands below his knees.
"It hurts like a son of a gun," Theismann said. "Last week, it came back real strong and I felt great going into yesterday's game. So, hopefully, it will come around again. But I hurt it worse this time, no doubt about it. It was a lot better at this point last week, but we'll just have to wait and see.
"I don't know if I can play or not, If I can, I will."
Pardee said he would start Theismann if the hamstring is in the same condition as it was by game time against Dallas. "Joe getting hurt again doesn't change my thinking.I felt early last week he would start the Dallas game and I'm hopeful this week, too."
Pardee accepted the blame for most of Kruczek's troubles against Dallas. Kruczek was rusty when he entered the game at the end of the first half. Other than brief appearances during the season, his last two full quarters of play had come in preseason. Until last week, when he practiced two days for Theismann, Kruczek's work with the regular offense has been limited during the regular schedule to running the two-minute drill on Fridays.
Otherwise, Theismann had taken almost all the snaps with the first unit, especially on 11-on-11 situations. As a result, Pardee admitted, the Redskins still have to determine which plays Kruczek will run best in games.
"The things that bothered him weren't all his fault. The pass protection broke down and his cadence is different and they just weren't that used to each other. We realize we have to get our pass protection back in order. We just can't expect to win if we can't pass better than we did against Dallas.
"We would have liked to have played Mike more, but we've been trying to win games. The same with practice. We feel Joe needs to get all the 11-on-11 work to make sure he is ready. Mike will be better this time around. 1But we haven't lost confidence in him. We know he can do the job."
Kruczek wasn't complaining about what happened Sunday, but he said he did think the fact that Pardee and Joe Walton, offensive coordinator, cut back the offense and stopped passing after he went in showed they might not have had complete faith in him. "I wished we could have passed more, but I'm not second-guessing.
"This is really all a lack of familiarity with me. I didn't play enough in preseason for them to have confidence in me and I haven't played enough since to change things. Until I play more, they'll never know what I can do. It would have helped for me to play more before now, but I didn't and now we are going to have to adjust.
"It would be easier for me, for my mental approach, if I knew definitely I was going to start this week. Joe is worse, so I would hope they let me take the job this week and start the game and go. At this time last week, I just felt he was going to start, but this is different.
"They don't have to be conservative when I'm in there. I know the keys, I can read, I know the offense. What have we got to lose by letting it loose these last four games?"
Defensive tackle Perry Brooks has a badly sprained ankle, and may not play this week. . . Pardee said end Karl Lorch would practice at tackle in case Brooks was sidelined. . . Pardee will continue to use two tight ends the rest of the season, now that reserve tight end Rick Walker has developed. "A lot of teams are using two tight ends, and we also think it can be effective for us." Wilbur Jackson gained 128 yards against Dallas relying mostly on the two tight end alignment.