The Washington Redskins completed their minicamp yesterday at Redskin Park and, looking into the maxifuture, Coach Joe Gibbs analyzed things this way:
"We're going to face a different kind of challenge this year. We have three West Coast trips and three Monday night games. Our job here, as coaches, is to make (the players) aware of what's in front of us . . . We've got a reputation to uphold.
"If anything, we have got to be more demanding of ourselves this year because we think more will be asked of us now."
The tests held at the end of yesterday's practice captured this week's camp in a nutshell. In one instance, there was cornerback Darrell Green, the Redskins' top draft pick from Texas A&I, running a team-best 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
In another instant, there was veteran John Riggins wheezing away in the back of the pack, with his fellow Hogs, during the 12-minute run, the test veterans dread most of all.
"With some individuals," Gibbs said diplomatically, without naming names, "you'd like to see them further along and in better shape."
Of course, minicamps are viewed as rare opportunities by rookies. Veterans tend to view them as chores. "It's our chance to prove ourselves," Charles Mann, a rookie defensive end drafted in the third round from Nevada-Reno, said.
Of the 12-minute run, defensive tackle Dave Butz, an 11-year veteran who carries 295 pounds on his 6-foot-7 body, says, "Little people like it. Big people don't . . . The only sport where you run for 12 consecutive minutes is basketball."
Besides Green, significance yesterday leaned on such names as Jeris White, Babe Laufenberg and Greg Jones.
White is a veteran cornerback who did not report this week because he is still unsigned. Last year, White, 30, had a base salary of $185,000, fourth highest on the Redskins. In 1981, he held out the entire summer training camp before signing.
Asked to describe the current status of contract talks between the Redskins and Howard Slusher, White's agent, Gibbs kept his comments brief.
"An impasse," he said.
Laufenberg is a rookie quarterback drafted in the sixth round from Indiana. Laufenberg, 6-2 and 195 pounds, is expected to duel Bob Holly, a second-year player, and Tom Owen, a 10-year veteran, for the two backup quarterback positions behind starter Joe Theismann.
"He has got a strong arm and he's very smart," Jerry Rhome, quarterbacks coach, said of Laufenberg. "I think he's going to keep it interesting for the two veterans."
In every camp there is the "surprise player." Enter Greg Jones, a Smurfish 5-11, 195-pound rookie running back from Alcorn State. Jones impressed Redskins' coaches with his acceleration.
"Exceptional quickness," said Don Breaux, running back coach, in admiration of Jones. Breaux said that over the next few weeks the Redskins will work individually with Jones on kickoff and punt returns. "Maybe we'll even look at the way he backpedals," Breaux said, meaning the Redskins might try Jones at defensive back, too.
Meanwhile, Green showed bursts of speed, fluttering about the secondary all week. "I was a little nervous at the start of this week," said Green, who outraced Stanley Floyd in a track meet earlier this year. "I felt better yesterday, though. I was doing my coverages better.
"My goals are to make this team and to erase any doubts the Redskins might have for picking me. I don't want people hanging the No. 1 draft pick thing on me. I want to show them I'm everything they expected and more."
Rookie running backs Richard Williams, drafted in the second round from Memphis State, and Marcus Gilbert, drafted in the ninth round from Texas Christian, both showed the potential to remain among the five running backs the Redskins likely will keep on the roster.
Breaux, who said running backs who also can play on special teams will have an advantage in earning a roster spot, said of Gilbert, "He probably catches the ball better than any of the new players we have."
Of Williams, who also returns kickoffs, Breaux said, "I can see him competing as a back on running downs."
Williams said, "My goal is to play a lot. My playing time might be restricted for the first couple of years. I guess it's like they say, 'Patience is the best virtue.' "