It's taken only two days of practice to convince Redskin players that there should be little, if any, poststrike dropoff evident during Sunday's game against the New York Giants.
"I think it may be so good Sunday that it will take a football technician to be able to tell whether we've been away for a long time or not," kick returner Mike Nelms said. "I don't think you are going to see that much difference between this and any other game.
"I came back thinking it would be different. I thought timing would be off and that we'd need too much time to brush up on our techniques. Even if you are in shape, it takes time to get things coordinated. Certainly, it won't be exactly the same as if we had kept playing, but it's not going to be half as bad as anyone might think."
What about the cynical predictions of teams producing Football Folly highlight films Sunday with their poor play?
"It's just not going to happen," running back Joe Washington said. "If a guy was coming off a desert island and didn't know there had been a strike, he wouldn't be able to tell the difference, no way.
"If anything, there are some pluses about the layoff. Usually you would see guys playing in their 10th or 11th game of the season. Everyone would be beat up and sore, and when you are like that, you can't play as well as you should. Now everyone is fresh and you can respond faster. Far as I'm concerned, they should give us a week off every year after eight games. Everyone would profit from that."
Quarterback Tom Owen: "I haven't seen any difference in practice. These guys are all professionals, they are going to perform. I think it will be a well-played game. Maybe it won't be the same as if we had been playing right along, but not that many obnoxious things are going to happen out there."
Center Jeff Bostic: "We are 2-0 and with a short season, we know how important each game is. You might not see a lot of fancy stuff, but it's going to be a down-home, hard-hitting physical game. We came back in good physical condition and I think it helped that our passing game-people worked out together during the strike.
"I don't see much dropoff in that phase so far. Besides, money will motivate a lot of people. Sometimes that can drive you to a higher caliber of performance."
Guard Mark May, who already feels "really sore" physically, had predicted the night the strike ended that teams would produce "late exhibition season" caliber football Sunday. Now, he's not so sure.
"It's going to be more of a mental game. The teams that can concentrate the best are going to win," he said. "Things are coming along with us real fast. We still don't have everything down pat but people will be surprised at the caliber of play."
There is disagreement, however, over just what phase of the game has suffered most from the long layoff.
Coach Joe Gibbs is convinced passing will be the most affected. Owen agrees.
"There are so many variables involved," Owen said. "The timing of the passing game has to be just right to make it work. The guy throwing the pass goes to the wrong receiver and everything is messed up. Or someone misses a blitz."
But running back Clarence Harmon feels the running game will have more problems.
"It takes so much coordination along the line to get the running game going just right," Harmon said. "Besides, we've been working on the passing part during the strike, so that's in good shape. But linemen haven't been hitting and they haven't been run blocking. That makes a difference."
Washington: "I can see fatigue being a problem, so teams with depth will be better off. And it will help to get the passing game cranked up. If you put together a sustained march of 60 yards or so, it's going to have an effect. It will be tough to come back and do that again. You need some long passes to make it easier.
"I've already told them they better have three oxygen tanks at the bench, one at either end and one in the middle. We're going to need them."
All Redskins practiced yesterday, after the arrival of linebacker Monte Coleman and fullback Wilbur Jackson . . . Gibbs is so concerned about muscle pulls that he even cautioned receiver Art Monk during practice to "slow down" after Monk accelerated to catch a pass in practice . . . The Redskins met for an hour longer than usual and practiced for at least 20 minutes longer than normal as Gibbs rushes to make up for time lost by the strike . . . "The problem is, you have to go back over the goals that got us here in the first place, plus go over the game plan," Gibbs said.