Jerry Scanlan's right knee is hunky-dory, Russ Grimm's left leg is fine, Ron Saul's upper body is magnificent and Fred Dean's competitive fire has never burned brighter. If a mad Frankenstein could stitch these fellows into one monster of a left guard, the Redskins would appreciate it. Failing such dark of the moon surgery, Joe Gibbs does not have a left guard who can get out of bed in a single bound.
"Redskins Scan Waiver List," is the headline you'll see soon. Here we are three games through the exhibitions, with the real thing a week from next Sunday when the cursed Cowboys strut into town. And the Redskins' four left guards don't add up to somebody who could leg-whip Kate Smith, let alone Too Tall Jones.
You've heard of Right Guard deodorant; the Redskins must use Left Guard. Spray it on, and your knee falls apart. Saul's arthroscopic surgery of last week was the fifth excavation in there. Scanlan's knee has been opened twice, but at 24 he has nine years to catch up with Saul's stitches.
Grimm gimped off the Baltimore field Saturday night, his right ankle beat up again, and Dean still waits for his arm's bicep to heal from surgery. The situation is so bad Scanlan played Saturday although he had five stitches in his knee from Monday's arthroscoping. He suited up to watch, not to work.
"I hadn't done anything all week except stay off the knee," Scanlan said.
Blood showed through a bandage.
"Stitches came loose," he said.
Then he left to put ice on the bleeding hinge.
This is dirty work at left guard, but somebody's got to do it. You're supposed to be a large person of some intelligence. Maybe Bobby Beathard is talking to Orson Welles right now. Unreliable sources say Henry Kissinger called Gerald Ford, the old center, but Ford couldn't find his helmet.
"I'm petrified," said Joe Gibbs, and his knee wasn't even bleeding.
You won't read about a left guard wanting to negotiate next year's contract before this season starts. A left guard is a replaceable item, as the Redskins have proved this summer: Saul is a career guard, but Dean used to be a tackle, Grimm a center and Scanlan a tackle.
Ronald Reagan was a tackle at Eureka College before they moved him to guard. He probably played the far right side.
Still, Gibbs is stone scared for good reason: No one ever won an NFL game without a left guard.
The rest of the Redskins' line seems okay, maybe no better than last season when injuries hit the tackles, but no worse. The dirty-work guys were blameless in Saturday night's 13-7 victory. Joe Theismann was five for 16, but not because of poor protection or wayward throwing.
"We couldn't get a ball caught," Gibbs said. The alleged receivers seemed to have sprayed their hands with pigskin repellant. Theismann completed just one pass downfield, that over the middle for 12 yards. Such failure caused Jack Pardee to run a conservative, throw-it-short offense. It also caused him to get fired.
The Redskins gained only 98 yards rushing, 61 by Wilbur Jackson in the late going, but no one much cares. If the Redskins go from 6-10 of last season to 10-6, they will do it with Theismann's success in an aggressive passing offense. Such success will free up runners John Riggins, Joe Washington and Jackson (where have you gone, Clarence Harmon?).
We should qualify the verdict that the offensive line, except for left guard, seems okay. It is as okay as a line can be with four new starters among the five interior men, considering that the new starters never have run a play from scrimmage in an NFL game.
One imagines Too Tall saying to Harvey, "Ummm, boy, a rookie for lunch a week from next Sunday." And Harvey saying, "We'll have more sacks than A & P."
The Redskins' new dirty-work guys are Jeff Bostic at center, Mel Jones at right guard (a strained Achilles' tendon kept him out of Saturday's game), Mark May at left tackle and Grimm at left guard if he's able.
The elderly chaperone of these kids is George Starke, 33, the right tackle for the eighth straight season.
"George is the key to our offensive line," Gibbs said. "He's going to have to carry that group. And he is doing everything we've asked of him. There's nobody I'd rather have out there."
Together, the four kids aren't as old as Coy Bacon.
May is 21, Bostic 22, Grimm 22 and Jones 25.
Ron Saul has scars older than that.
These guys may wear Pampers under their hip pads.
"We're a young line," said Scanlan, back after taping an ice pack to his knee, "and it's hurting us now to have these injuries because we're not getting the game time we need to learn everything."
Pro teams get rid of marginal players 30 years old. Offensive linemen go first. So Terry Hermeling and Dan Nugent are gone, and Bob Kuziel and Saul likely are going.
The risk of such junk-piling is that the kids will get hurt and no one can fill in.
"The coaches are concentrating on younger players," Scanlan said. "And the offensive line is especially on the spot."
Not to worry a whole lot, though.
Counting the bench-warmer end from Whittier, three of the last four presidents of the United States have been offensive linemen.
Defensive linemen do beer commercials.