The Washington Redskins' decision not to have their veteran players undergo special urinalysis tests for illegal drug use avoided a major training-camp confrontation with those players.
About 30 Redskins met Monday night with player representative Mark Murphy to discuss, among other issues, the current controversy over drug testing. According to Murphy, all of the players were opposed to the tests and all agreed to resist any attempt by the team to conduct them at camp, which officially opens today in Carlisle, Pa.
"We never took a formal vote or anything, but everyone agreed that the tests were something we didn't want," Murphy said. "There is no question that the team has avoided a confrontation by deciding not to give the tests. I suppose the rookies would have agreed to the tests but there was no way the veterans would have."
General Manager Bobby Beathard said Tuesday that the Redskins had decided against conducting special tests of urine specimens. Most of the players already have had their routine physicals, which included a standard urinalysis.
"I think the team took a positive step by its decision," Murphy said. "I know our meeting helped the players. We all thought we might be the only ones opposed and we were wondering if we were going to have to stand alone. But everyone objected to the reliability of the tests and the presumption of guilt that they imply."
Most of the Redskin veterans will not report to Carlisle until July 31. Until then, Coach Joe Gibbs and his staff will be working mainly with about 70 free agents and rookies and some selected veterans. Even quarterback Joe Theismann has been told not to report, as he usually does, with the first wave of players.
"We want to use the first 10 days to get a good read on the younger players," Gibbs said. "I'm excited by the potential of many of them, but we have to see them in pads first and see how they react to two-a-day practices."
The early days of camp, which will be open to the public (practices will begin at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.), likely will be dominated by the team's main draft choices, cornerback Vernon Dean (second round), receiver Carl Powell (third), defensive end Todd Liebenstein (fourth) and tight end Mike Williams (fifth), all of whom have fine shots at making the 45-man roster, and by such promising younsters as Larry Kubin, Charlie Brown and Clint Didier.
With the departure of cornerback Lemar Parrish, wide receiver Ricky Thompson, linebacker Charlie Weaver and defensive end Karl Lorch, there already are at least four roster spots open. Although Gibbs said he anticipates a smaller roster turnover than last season, it would not be surprising to see at least 10 to 12 new faces on this year's team.
Gibbs will hold an afternoon practice today and then begin two-a-days on Friday . . . The Redskins rookies will scrimmage the Colts on July 31 in Carlisle . . . With 118 players, in all, expected to report by July 31, the main dormitory at Dickinson College is filled, meaning some players will be housed in an adjoining dorm usually reserved for some team administrators and media.