Coach Bud Grant said he wishes his Minnesota Vikings had some surprises ready for Friday night's game with the Washington Redskins, but claims they don't.
"I would like to say that one player looked particularly good last week against Miami but they didn't," Grant said on the phone yesterday. "We got beat by Miami and beat pretty good.
"We also lost (cornerback) John Turner, who broke his leg in that game and is going to be out now for four to six weeks. Miami looked pretty sharp.
"We beat Washington last year (34-19 in the regular season) but now they have a new coach. I just looked at the films of last week's Washington-Kansas City game and they looked pretty good. But who knows?" said Grant.
Several Minnesota players said they were unruffled by the Vikings' 20-6 exhibition loss to Miami, blaming a short training camp on the showing. The Vikings reported to their Eden Prairie camp July 30, only nine days before they faced the Dolphins and a full two weeks after most other NFL teams began work.
Part of Grant's philosophy is that by shortening his team's summer work, the Vikings will be fresher later in the year.
"As a 10-year player, I really enjoy a late camp," said wide receiver Ahmad Rashad. "This year, I was in Hawaii while all my friends in the league were already at camp.
"It really seems to pay off at the end of the season when the Vikings always seem to have a lot of life," he added. "The Vikings come on strong at the end; that's been a trademark of our team."
Rashad said that the Vikings are virtually a 2-year-old team. He said that, unlike Minnesota teams of the past, known for a strong defense, the new Vikes have a solid offense.
"People remember the Vikings as the 'Purple People Eaters' but we've changed. We were one of the top passsing teams in the NFL last season and we have almost the same team back this year," Rashad said.
Bobby Bryant, a 13-year Minnesota cornerback who is expected to see only limited action at RFK Stadium because of a pulled hamstring, said, however, that the Redskins would be wrong to underestimate his club's defense.
"We didn't look real sharp against Miami," Bryant conceded. "But we had a few moments on defense when we looked pretty solid.
"Our defense looks good. We have Willie Teal at right corner, Doug Martin (defensive end), Marvin Cobb and a couple of new people. The Redskins have a stronger offense than defense now, with Riggins, Metcalf and Washington.
"This should definitely be an interesting game."
Bryant added that fans should keep an eye on Viking wide reciever James Murphy, who was "outstanding" against Miami.
As Grant made last-minute preparations for the Washington game (which included rescheduling the team's charter flight to a Thursday night red-eye special because of the air traffic controllers strike), the coach said he was concentrating on the Vikings and not worrying about what the Redskins were planning to do.
"I'm going to show the films (of last week's Redskins game and last season's Redskins-Vikings contest) to the team and that's all we're going to do -- just look at them. There certainly isn't the intense preparation in the preseason like you see in the regular season," Grant said. "What we did last year isn't really valid with their new coach."