Perhaps because he and his staff are behind schedule, Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs admits he is concerned whether some of his players are lagging in preparation for training camp this summer.
"Maybe I'm paranoid about it, but one of my fears is that we aren't working as hard as we should," Gibbs said. "It would be a natural thing to happen, and it's something we want to prevent from happening.
"Most of the guys, I know what they are doing, and they are working hard . . . But there are a few guys, the same old deal, that we are having some trouble with getting back and getting going again. We've got people trying to chase them down.
"All and all, I think we'll be in pretty good shape. But we'll find out at our (May) minicamp. We are just starting a push now . . . Some guys have a tougher time with success, I'm sure we'll have a few of those who are fattened up."
Gibbs and his staff are completing a film study of the Redskins' Super Bowl season, a project he says is behind schedule. "That's one good thing about minicamp," he said. "It forces you to work hard and get caught up."
Gibbs also fears the Redskins will lapse into what Bill Walsh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, calls championship fallout. Walsh has said that "you think you are working as hard in preparing for the defense of the title but you really aren't. You are lulled into a comfort zone, thinking you can turn it on when you have to and you just don't maintain the needed edge that got you through in the championship year."
Gibbs: "We know the last three Super Bowl champions did very poorly the next year. We are going to talk about that a lot. We should enjoy what we accomplished, but we also have to remember there is a next year to worry about too."
Gibbs also said:
* Joe Washington has recovered well from surgery on both knees. "We are very encouraged," he said. "He's beginning working fully with both knees and he is very optimistic. Usually he is reserved about these things but not this time. It's too early to say how hard he is working. It's very important that he is dedicated to rehabilitating the knees."
* Art Monk still is unable to run after aggravating a fracture of his little toe in the last regular-season game, but he should be all right by training camp. "He probably won't make minicamp. It's still a little tender and they want to take it slow and easy with him . . . But he's in great shape, he's lifting weights."
* Don Warren still is bothered by a sore ankle, hurt in the playoffs. "He has the foot in a cast. There evidently is a bone chip and they want to try to see what a cast will do. But he should be okay."
* An operation to correct foot problems that put rookie John Schachtner on injured reserve last year "didn't come out as well as we thought. There might be a problem with it and they are having other people check that right now." Schachtner was a seventh-round draft choice last year out of Northern Arizona.
* He expects close competition at a number of positions this summer, including middle linebacker (Neal Olkewicz and Larry Kubin), free safety (Mark Murphy and Greg Williams) and defensive tackle (Darryl Grant and Perry Brooks). With Washington still recovering and Wilbur Jackson unsigned, there is a potential depth problem at running back behind John Riggins.
* He would like the Redskins' remaining 14 free agents signed by minicamp. "Otherwise, it's going to make things tough to have continuity. We don't need a lot of guys not participating. But these things can't be rushed. What happens, happens."
General Manager Bobby Beathard says he is close to signing Pro Bowl safety Tony Peters and tackle Joe Jacoby. But otherwise, he isn't optimistic about any quick signings. He has not even begun bargaining with cornerback Jeris White and negotiations with Olkewicz and Mike Nelms are at a standstill.
"Rick Bennett (who represents Peters, Nelms and Olkewicz) has asked that we get Tony done first and then go back to the other two," Beathard said. "So that's what we are doing."
Bennett said the Redskins "are far, far away from signing either Olkewicz or Nelms. Right now, I don't know what it will take to get things going."
Beathard: "I'm still waiting for contract figures from Wilbur Jackson's attorney. I'm not sure if Wilbur wants to retire or not, but I would guess he wants to come back . . . We've made good progress with Mark Murphy. I'm trying to keep everything moving and cover as much ground as we can."
Gibbs: "It was very important that we got Riggins and Rich Milot signed right away. The other league (USFL) showed interest in them and we didn't want to lose them. It's important that we also get everyone else signed. I want to keep this team intact. I don't want to fool with the chemistry and Bobby and Mr. (Jack Kent) Cooke feel the same way."
Regarding Cooke's statement that he would talk to both Gibbs and Beathard about their own contracts, each said the owner had not begun discussions. "That's up to Mr. Cooke," Gibbs said. "I'm just sitting here and doing my job. I'm not thinking about it."
Gibbs said he purposely kept his post-Super Bowl activities to a minimum. "I didn't want to get caught up in the banquet circuit, I just chose a couple of appearances and cut it off at that." He did go on a ski vacation in Vail . . . The Redskins are finishing preparations for the draft, with coaches traveling with scouts to work out players . . . Gibbs is happy that more Redskins are living permanently in the area. "We want everyone to live here," he said. "It makes offseason work easier."