They are nearly record-book brethren now, but Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk admits he has never heard of Charley Hennigan.
Hennigan is the wide receiver who caught 101 of quarterback George Blanda's passes while playing for the Houston Oilers in the old American Football League in 1964. Hennigan's total stands in fine-print glory as the single-season record.
Monk now has a league-best 82 receptions for 1,111 yards. Already, that's the 14th-highest number of catches in a single season since 1921, the first year of the National Football League.
Furthermore, pull out the calculator and you'll realize that if Monk duplicates his per-game average of 6.3 catches over the final three games of this season, he will tie Hennigan's mark.
"I've always known that I was capable of doing this," Monk said yesterday, following his 11 catches for 104 yards in the Redskins' 41-14 victory over Buffalo Sunday. "It was just a matter of getting the chance."
Forget the ankle injury that kept Monk from the playoffs and the Super Bowl victory in 1982, even though, he says, "By not playing in that Super Bowl two years ago, and after losing the Super Bowl last year, I still feel like I'm missing something."
Forget, too, the knee injury that kept Monk on injured reserve for the first four games of last season and limited him to 47 catches.
And consider it all to be poetic justice that in this year of injury for the Redskins, Monk has been the stabilizer. Make no mistake, this is Art Monk's year.
"When things weren't going good for us this year," Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday, "Art Monk was there. When things are going good for us, Art Monk is still there.
"I'll tell you this, Art Monk has done more for this team than any other receiver has done at any place I've ever been," added Gibbs, who served as offensive coordinator for a San Diego team that included tight end Kellen Winslow, a pass-catching magnet who caught 89 passes in a season once and 88 twice.
Conversation circled the Redskins' galaxy during yesterday's respite from practice. There was talk of how quarterback Joe Theismann broke another of Sonny Jurgensen's club records Sunday, becoming the Redskins' all-time leader in passing yards, with 22,706. Theismann went by Jurgensen last week in passes (he now has 3,211) and needs 11 completions to pass Jurgensen (1,831) in that category.
There was talk of the continued uncertain playing status of fullback John Riggins. The 35-year-old veteran still has pains in his lower back. He had just three carries against Buffalo and, Gibbs said, "John's still sore. He's day to day."
There also was talk of the continuing problems with the special teams, which had trouble with kickoff coverage against Buffalo. Gibbs said several starters now will have to play on the special teams, beginning Thursday night against Minnesota.
Gibbs said special teams captain Pete Cronan, a linebacker on injured reserve since the preseason, might be exposed to waivers this week in hopes of reactivating him. (Players put on the injured list before the initial 49-man roster is selected cannot return to the active roster without first clearing waivers.)
Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach, said, "What frustrates me is the way we've been playing the last three or four weeks. We have guys on this team whose only job is to play on special teams and they aren't doing it, not physically or mentally."
Sevier would not name the culprits but did say tight ends Clint Didier and Rick Walker, defensive end Charles Mann, cornerback Vernon Dean and strong safety Ken Coffey have been discussed as possible additions to the special teams.
As for Monk, "There's not too much Art can't do. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he's like a running back," said the wide receivers' coach, Charley Taylor, who is in the Hall of Fame. "Some people say that the way Art plays reminds them of the way I played."
"Art can overpower people and that was CT's big thing, too," said Bobby Mitchell, the Redskins' assistant general manager and Hall of Fame running back/receiver. "Charlie Brown had great games and now Calvin Muhammad catches deep passes, but you need the consistent guy. Art makes defenses do something; he makes the other receivers better. Same as CT used to be."
"I guess we are somewhat similar. We both have running-back backgrounds. We're about the same size, too," said Monk, who at 6 feet 3, 209 pounds, is the same height and one pound lighter than Taylor was in his 649-catch career.
Monk says that what he would like to do most is lead the NFL in receptions. Presently, Cleveland tight end Ozzie Newsome is closest to Monk, with 74.
"It would be something that would remain in the record books," Monk said. "I could look back and say, 'Hey, I led the league.' " -- --
Gibbs said defensive tackle Dave Butz was released from Arlington Hospital yesterday. Butz missed the Buffalo game because of an intestinal virus, but is expected to practice lightly today. Trainer Bubba Tyer said Butz will be listed as "probable" (75 percent chance he will play) for the Minnesota game.
Linebacker Mel Kaufman and offensive tackle Mark May will be listed as "questionable" (50-50). Both have neck injuries, although X-rays taken yesterday showed that neither incurred a fracture. Kaufman would be replaced by Monte Coleman and May by George Starke.
Gibbs said he will wait to see how Joe Washington (strained knee) does in practice today before deciding whether to use the last injured-reserve reactivation of the regular season on the veteran running back.