Troubled Baltimore quarterback Bert Jones, despite his sore shoulder, probably will be the starting quarterback by default when the Colts face the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium Sunday.
With today's news that David Humm has a broken passing (left) hand instead of a dislocated finger, as had been suspected, the only other available quarterback is Jay Venuto. He was signed Monday and never has played in a National Football League game.
Jones, who sat out last week's 37-13 loss to the Dallas Cowboys with a wrenched right shoulder, will test his arm at practice Wednesday, Coach Mike McCormack said. "Sunday he couldn't throw the ball six feet, but he was feeling better today, so we'll see how he feels tomorrow, and hopefully he'll be able to start."
Jones' original backup, Greg Landry, strained his back lifting his young daughter, and was placed on the injured reserve list two weeks ago. The Colts signed Humm to replace him.
After Jones was hurt -- while being sacked by the New York Jets Nov. 29 -- Humm made his first NFL start against the Cowboys. But Humm is lost for the rest of the season.
Venuto, a free agent from Wake Forest cut at the end of the Colt training camp, was coaching at Appalachian State when he got the call to come to Baltimore.
"We hope Bert will be able to play," McCormack said, "but we're still trying to get Jay ready. He knows the system. He just has to get reacquainted with it."
Three seasons ago, Jones was considered one of the premier young quarterbacks in the National Football League. Now, at 30, the golden boy image has worn off. Jones has irritated his coaches, fans and teammates at one time or another, and his future with Baltimore is uncertain.
Jones prefers not to talk about his situation or his future. But based on Baltimore's dreadful performance (1-13) this season, the controversy that has surrounded Jones and the fact that he will be a free agent Feb. 15, it seems unlikely he will return next season.
McCormack said he had been thinking of trying another quarterback, even if Jones had been able to play against the Cowboys. But he chose not to speculate on Jones' future with the Colts beyond Sunday.
"Bert is still here, and whether he's still here or if I'm here next year, is up for debate after the season," McCormack said.
Jones became a center of controversy five weeks ago, when he berated halfback Curtis Dickey for not completing a play the way Jones thought he should. McCormack removed Dickey from the game, and the halfback sat on the bench the rest of the afternoon.
McCormack said later that it had been a mistake not to put Dickey back in the game. Dickey accused Jones of being a racist and said he wanted to be traded.
Other players were berated by Jones until McCormack told his quarterback to stop such tactics.
The question facing the Colts is, do they keep Jones and rebuild with him, or do they get what they can for him and draft someone like Jim McMahon of Brigham Young or Art Schlichter of Ohio State?
Indications are that the Colts will entertain all offers for Jones once the season is over.
Jones will become a free agent if he doesn't re-sign with the Colts by Feb. 15, and the Colts then could retain him simply by matching any offer from another team. If they don't want him, they can make a qualifying offer to Jones, which would mean they would be entitled to compensation if another team does sign him.
Jones reportedly earns $320,000 a year. Under the collective bargaining agreement between management and the NFL Players Association, any player not under contract who makes more than $200,000 a year will cost a team that signs him two first-round draft choices.
Therefore, it would seem that any team interested in Jones would try to trade for him. Recently, it has been rumored widely that Los Angeles wants Jones.
If it weren't for his chronic shoulder problems, Jones probably would be sought by virtually every team with a quarterback problem. But because of his shoulder, he played in only three games in 1978 and three in 1979. He missed only one game with the injury last year, and had no serious physical problems this season until he reinjured his shoulder against the Jets.
Jones has completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,610 yards this season and has thrown 16 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions.Picture 2, Bert Jones, who watched from the sidelines as Colts lost to Dallas, Sunday, probably will start against Redskins.;