Three weeks after it appeared Bobby Hammond had no future with the Redskins, he could go into next training camp as their No. 1 halfback.
Hammond certainly put in a bid for that position with 135 yards rushing today against the Cardinals one week after he helped salvage a victory over the Giants with an outstanding second-half effort.
"All players have goals for themselves and I always thought I could be a 1,000-yard rusher if given the chance," Hammond said. "Joe Cribbs (of Buffalo) isn't any bigger than I am and he's shown he can survive.
"Funny, I was glad about what happened today, but I'm sad too, because I'm just getting started and the season is over. I'd love to be able to play a few more weeks, just to keep this going.
"This still is no consolation for what's happened to this team this year. I look around and we have playoff talent. For us to be 6-10, it's a shame."
Hammond, whose career high had been 99 yards, averaged 7.9 yards on 17 carries, including one for 36 yards. He had 42 yards in the Redskins' first touchdown drive and finished with 79 in the first half, when Washington opened up a 21-0 lead. Entering the contest, Hammond had gained just 130 yards on 28 carries. He had been used sparingly until last week after dropping a number of passes in a midseason game.
"I had to overcome those dropped passes and regain some confidence," he said. "But today I was running like I know I can. I'm a cutback runner. They were opening up some good holes for me and once I get through the line, I can make my own yards. I had a good rhythm going in this one, I felt good, things were flowing."
While Hammond looked to the future, other Redskins were finishing off their last game in a Washington uniform. Defensive tackle Diron Talbert, who wants to play somewhere in the league next season, said he just hoped the Redskins "keep some leaders around here. This team is going to be okay as long as they get some players with some spark, ones who jump around and laugh a lot. Glum faces aren't going to help very much.
"I think they'll probably keep Jack Pardee. I have a lot of confidence in him. And I have no bitterness about leaving. It's just obvious they don't want me around."
Other players not expected to return include tackle Terry Hermeling, quarterback Kim McQuilken, guard Dan Nugent and defensive tackle Paul Smith. Hammond once was thought to be in that category too, but at least in this game, he supplied the kind of quickness and acceleration from the halfback spot the Redskins have been lacking for years.
"If you don't play, you can't show what you can do," said Hammond. "I'm just happy I could take advantage of my opportunity when it came."