Athletes refer to it as a "calling card," a brief but impressive glimpse into a player's ability. And that's what rookie Dan Miller gave veteran Mark Moseley today by kicking field goals of 52 and 51 yards during a Redskin intrasquad scrimmage.
The slightly built Miller, who is trying to replace one of the most respected field goal kickers in pro football, also missed from 46 yards in the opening round of their training camp competition. But each of his successes cleared the crossbar with at least five yards to spare.
Moseley also made two of three attempts, from 43 and 47 yards, although Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach, said the 43-yarder might not have been good within the more narrow confines of professional goal posts.
"This really won't enter into our decision," said Sevier. "You can't put that much on one afternoon. It will be a matter of what they do during the first three preseason games and in other practices.
"But you never know how this will affect them psychologically."
Moseley hardly seemed flustered by the day's activities.
"My leg was a little tight, and I was punching at the ball instead of kicking it," he said.
How about Miller's performance?
"He's a good kicker, I've always said that," Moseley said. "I thought about not kicking, the way my leg felt, but I got it loose. Anyway, when you are supposed to be fighting for your life, you want to get into the heat of the battle."
Miller, of course, was elated.
"This is the first time I really felt relaxed here," said Miller, an 11th round choice from Miami. "It takes time. You are tight at first and you have to get used to a new holder. Today, I was taking a smooth step and hitting the ball strongly.
"Kicking with people watching and in game-like conditions was good, too. It helps you to know you can go out there and do it and not have to strain."
Miller was drafted in case Moseley, who was hindered by injuries and inconsistency last season, showed a further drop in camp. Sevier readily admits that Miller faces a difficult task in his quest for a roster spot, but at least now he has demonstrated he is a legitimate challenger.
The Redskins may be faced with a dilemma in trying to decide which player best meets the team's needs. They might feel safer in the short run going with Moseley. But they also know that Miller could be a successful NFL kicker for a decade--long after Moseley retires.
"I think an important factor in deciding between Mark and Dan and between our two punters (Mike Connell and Jeff Hayes) will be kickoffs," Sevier said. "All four can do that well, but the one who ultimately stands out there could get a boost."
The nonscoring scrimmage ended the first phase of camp. On Monday, the Redskins will enter the preseason game segment, when they begin preparations for Saturday's opening exhibition at Miami.
Although Coach Joe Gibbs was displeased with some rough spots today, especially the difficulty some receivers had in setting up correctly at the line of scrimmage, he said he was happy about his team's work during the last week.
"We had lots of contact work and it was mostly hard and crisp," he said. "Now some people are starting to drop off and others are starting to pop out."
One player who continues to pop out is receiver Alvin Garrett, who ranks as Gibbs' most pleasant surprise in camp. Gibbs said he never expected Garrett, who was picked up on waivers from the New York Giants last year, would look as good as he has.
"He's had some outstanding practices," Gibbs said. "He keeps flashing at you, making fine catches and blocking well. He's moved up in our eyes, no question about that."
Garrett, a Virgil Seay look-alike at 5-foot-7 and 178 pounds, was principally a kick returner with New York, a role he could fill here as Mike Nelms' backup. But his emergence as a receiver could complicate Gibbs' desire to keep only four ends, especially since rookie Carl Powell also is showing improvement.
With Charlie Brown still injured, Powell endured an added workload today. He was most impressive making two catches over the middle, despite tight coverage. The major question about Powell when he left Jackson State was whether he would go without hesitation into the heart of the defense. For one afternoon, at least, that wasn't a problem.
"I always thought I could catch a pass anywhere," said Powell, who had been bothered early in camp by tired legs. "I just had to prove it to the coaches, the fans and the scouts who said I couldn't. My legs feel much better. By next week, I think I'll be back to my 4.4 speed."
Another rookie, cornerback Vernon Dean, lived up to his scouting reports. Billed as an aggressive tackler, he was involved in at least three hard collisions with receivers, setting the tone for the rest of the defense.
"I have to hope it's our defense that played well, and not the offense that was bad," Gibbs said. "That's the trouble when you play yourself, you never know what to think."
Guard Russ Grimm, still recovering from offseason knee surgery, got a scare during the intrasquad scrimmage when he was hit from the side on a running play.
"The knee took a shot and I felt it," said Grimm, who immediately left the scrimmage. "It feels weak. But at least it held up. That's the good point."
The defensive staff was pleased with the play of end Dexter Manley, who sprinted around massive Joe Jacoby a few times early in the workout to put good pressure on the Redskin quarterbacks. Washington is depending on Manley to improve its pass rush this season.