With the RFK Stadium practice field dotted with divots and criss-crossed with troughs, the Federals packed into about 20 cars yesterday and made for Kenilworth Park in Northeast Washington. The trip to afternoon practice, however, was by no means a funeral cortege.
Though the Federals have lost their first three games, the workout was spirited and, at moments, impressive. Quarterback Kim McQuilken consistently hit receivers Mike Holmes and Joey Walters on slant patterns that had Coy Bacon cheering.
After the Federals lost in the waning seconds to Boston last week, no one was cheering. They turned a possible victory into a loss, and in the locker room there was the deathly quiet of frustration.
"For the first couple days after the loss to Boston, everyone was down," said safety Donnie Harris. "But now we've got that out of our minds pretty much and we're going to be better. Count on it."
The line has been the weak point of the Federals' offense from the start. Against the Breakers, the backs averaged only one yard per carry, a dismal statistic that Coach Ray Jauch credits to the line rather than the injury to star runner Craig James.
Mike Wilson, a former all-Canadian Football League offensive lineman signed last week, may improve the situation. Jauch said Wilson may start at left guard against the Michigan Panthers at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, with Brian Musselman moving to center and Bruce Byrom moving to the bench.
Wilson retired from the CFL two years ago, and at 35 he has a few pounds to lose before he is in shape. "But I'm feeling fine," he said. "I'll be ready."
On defense, Jauch is trying to find capable linebackers, while stayng with the line and backs he has. Linebacker John Zupancic has been released, former St. Louis Cardinals linebacker Jeff McIntyre signed and Dan Lloyd is being given a tryout. Lloyd is a former Giants' inside linebacker who made a full recovery from lymphatic cancer in 1980-81.
"The likelihood is that McIntyre will get the best shot to play because he has the experience on the outside," Jauch said. "We'll see what Lloyd can do physically."
Harris evaluated the defense this way: "The nucleus is good. Our linebackers are young. A guy like (middle linebacker) Ed Baxley hits hard and has all the right strengths, but he's been getting beat over the middle with passes. It's experience."
"When Jeff Brown got burned for two touchdowns in Los Angeles, he was covering a slower guy and just went to sleep," said Ted Vactor, the defensive coach. "He has to learn to stay in it, every play."
Jauch released punter Steve Hoffman and will use either Mike Forslund or Dana Moore, former Mississippi State punter and kicker, at the position. Moore as released by the New Jersey Generals two days before the first game.
"I'd say we're about halfway through the process of shoring up our problem spots," said Jauch. "We brought in Holmes and Walters at receiver, and now we're working on the linebackers and the line. It'll come, though. It will."