Washington yesterday filled its reserve linebacking void by acquiring former Redskin Kevin Turner from the New York Giants, and received encouraging reports about two injured players, Brad Dusek and Mike Nelms.
But the club withheld the announcement of its final cuts until today because of roster complications brought on by those injuries and by Charlie Brown's hurt knee. No front-line players appear to be involved in the maneuvering.
Turner's name should be familiar to followers of the Bobby Beathard-Jack Pardee controversy last season. He became a central figure in that dispute when Beathard wanted to keep him at the end of training camp and Pardee wanted to cut him.
Pardee won that argument, choosing to keep linebacker Dallas Hickman, who was released in this summer's training camp. Turner, a free agent from Pacific, wandered first to the Miami Dolphins and then to the Giants, where he played the final three games of the 1980 season.
The Redskins got him back for an undisclosed choice, probably in the 12th round, to replace Dusek, who dislocated his left shoulder Sunday at New England, leaving the team with only five healthy linebackers.
"Kevin is familiar with our defensive system, so we thought he would be able to pick it up quicker than someone else who might have been available," Beathard said. "We think he's a good player. We liked him last year and he should be able to come in here and get ready fast."
The Redskins seemed optimistic yesterday that Dusek would heal within four weeks. He will be placed on the 45-man roster, then removed to the injured reserve list. After four weeks, he can be recalled without going through waivers.
"I'm encouraged by what I was told today about Brad," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "Once the soreness goes away, maybe in 10 days, he can start conditioning again. Then it will be up to him to decide when he can play."
Nelms' broken thumb may heal faster than Gibbs had anticipated -- it was decided today that it was not necessary to put a pin in the thumb.
Gibbs said Nelms may return punts against Dallas Sunday, although he admitted the team might not want to take that gamble. Nelms will wear a cast.
"My guess is that we will go with Terry Metcalf, then Virgil Seay and Joe Washington Sunday," Gibbs said, "with Terry the main guy. But Mike thinks he can do it. We'll see how he comes along and we'll let him try it out."
Nelms said he would like to try to catch punts on Wednesday or Thursday. "It just feels like a jammed thumb, nothing more," he said. "I don't see why I can't still return kicks. But we'll find that out."
Brown's knee has not healed quickly. Gibbs anticipates that the rookie wide receiver will be ready within two to three weeks. He seems certain to be placed on the 45-man roster and moved to injured reserve, since he won't be able to play against the Cowboys. Like Dusek, Brown later can be activated without going through waivers.
According to league sources, the Redskins released six players, and apparently will bring two back today, after they have cleared waivers, to fill the roster spots created by putting Brown and Dusek on injured reserve.
Washington does not want the two players in question to know that they had been exposed to waivers, figuring they might be upset about it. So all announcements were postponed.
It seems certain, however, that center Dan Peiffer will not make the active roster. Peiffer was sent to Dr. Stan Lavine, the team physician, to have his ailing knees examined yesterday. Peiffer is headed for the training camp injured reserve list, and would have to clear waivers to return this season.
Others cuts probably will involve defensive tackle Pat Ogrin and three more from the offense, including at least one wide receiver. Since Gibbs gave Seay an endorsement yesterday as a possible kick returner, he may survive the final reduction, which would put John Floyd, who was just acquired last week from San Diego, in jeopardy of not making the team.
Another injured Redskin, guard Russ Grimm, practiced yesterday after missing a week with a bad ankle. Grimm or Jerry Scanlan will start Sunday opposite the Cowboys' Randy White.
"We'll have to see how Russ comes along and then talk it over and decide which one will start," Gibbs said. "Right now, I'm not sure who it will be. And I'm not sure who will start at the running backs, either."
This is Gibbs' first exposure to Dallas week, and he admitted that he was both curious and anxious to see what the upcoming days would be like.
"I'm curious to see what our team will be like, and a bit worried, because you never know how you will play," he said. "Dallas is the kind of team that can blow you out if you don't play well.
"One thing is for sure, there won't be any faking it. If you aren't good, you'll find out in a hurry."
This is the Cowboy injury situation: fullback Tim Newsome (cracked ribs) apparently will not play Sunday. Listed as questionable are guard Tom Rafferty (pulled calf muscle), halfback James Jones (groin), tight end Jay Saldi (ankle) and strong safety Charlie Waters, who tripped on a rug Friday, fell down some stairs and sprained his left wrist and jammed his right knee, which had been operated on last year.
If Waters doesn't start, Benny Barnes would replace him. Other secondary members probably will be Steve Wilson and Dennis Thurman at the corners and rookie free agent Mike Downs at free safety.
Receiver Tony Hill didn't play during the preseason because of injuries but may begin practicing Wednesday. Butch Johnson will start for him.