It's D-Day for the Washington Redskins, and that doesn't mean Dallas.
By noon today, the Redskins must make the five final decisions that will bring their roster to the mandatory 45-player limit.
Although Coach Joe Gibbs and General Manager Bobby Beathard apparently still had some moves to make this morning, indications are that they are leaning toward keeping only two quarterbacks: Joe Theismann and Jay Schroeder.
Babe Laufenberg, who did not play in the final preseason game at Tampa Bay Friday night, likely would be waived.
But this decision hinges on injuries, a possible trade and several other decisions.
The Redskins are trying to trade rookie cornerback Tory Nixon, their top draft choice, but apparently found no one who is interested as of early yesterday evening. If Nixon is not traded, it's likely he will be waived.
Apparently, either Pete Cronan or Stuart Anderson, both well-liked linebackers known for their special-teams play, will be waived. It's possible that running back/kick returner Michael Morton and rookie wide receiver Joe Phillips also will be waived.
That's one way to account for five roster moves. But the Redskins have several other options, pending an injury report this morning from head trainer Bubba Tyer.
Wide receiver/punt returner Gary Clark's sprained right knee may be worse than anticipated, Beathard said.
"When he cuts, it catches, like there's some cartilage there," Beathard said. "That's a bad sign."
Defensive end Steve Hamilton has a pinched nerve in his right shoulder, which is thought to be the most serious injury on the team, barring perhaps Clark's. Gibbs said the Redskins also plan to evaluate the status of veteran defensive tackle Tom Beasley, who missed all four preseason games with an injured big toe.
Any one of them may figure in some cutdown-day maneuvering that has become traditional in the NFL. The Redskins are considering placing them (especially Clark or Hamilton) on injured reserve, Beathard said, but likely only after they have made the 45-man roster.
During the season, four players placed on injured reserve after the final roster has been named can be brought back to the team without going through waivers. Only one player placed on injured reserve in preseason can be brought back this way, and it's likely the Redskins will use that move when center Jeff Bostic is ready to return from his knee injury.
However, to do this, it's likely any injury would have to be serious enough to keep a player out of more than one game.
Meanwhile, the Redskins may place one or two players on waivers with the hope that no other team is interested in them and with the intention of bringing them back and re-signing them, when and if they move Clark, Hamilton or Beasley to injured reserve (other teams have 24 hours to claim a player off waivers).
A year ago, this procedure was followed with Anderson, who cleared waivers and rejoined the Redskins.
On a day of phone calls and meetings, the most perplexing and ironic conversations yesterday concerned Nixon.
On April 30, in a last-minute draft day deal, the Redskins traded running back Joe Washington to Atlanta to obtain an earlier second-round pick and get Nixon. Now, four months later, they were trying very hard to trade him.
"If I had to do it all over again, I would probably do the same thing," Beathard said. "Tory's evaluation was that he didn't have top speed, but he played with intelligence. We all saw him (before drafting him).
"This is one of the difficult things to understand, one of the heartaches in drafting players. The Raphels (Cherry), the Barrys (Wilburn), the (Dean) Hamels -- they are the fun things."
Both Gibbs and Beathard scouted Nixon, who missed two weeks of training camp in a contract holdout as well as most of an informal spring workout at Redskin Park.
"It may take time for him to show the quickness and the speed we saw when we scouted him," Beathard said. "I would want another month with him, but with the 45-man roster, I don't know if we'll get that."
Owner Jack Kent Cooke, who has paid Nixon a reported $200,000 signing bonus, said he is not angry over this turn of events.
"Perfection is not guaranteed to anyone," Cooke said. "Bobby Beathard is one of anyone. Therefore, Bobby is not expected to be perfect.
"It may be necessary to trade Tory. If it's done, Bobby will make the best of an unfortunate confluence of circumstances, not all of which have been bad."
It appears likely four draft picks will make the roster: free safety Cherry (fifth round); cornerback/strong safety Wilburn (eighth); guard/center Raleigh McKenzie (11th), and defensive tackle Hamel (12th). Three others -- tight end Danzell Lee (sixth), running back Lionel Vital (seventh) and H-back Terry Orr (10th) -- are on injured reserve.
"In evaluating the draft, you've got to look at it overall," Gibbs said. "Everyone has a tendency to jump the gun and look at only the higher picks. But if you look at it overall, this draft is probably second only to our first one (in 1981).
"And this team is a lot more solid than that team was five years ago, so making this team is a credit to those younger players."
In 1981, the Redskins drafted tackle Mark May (first round), guard Russ Grimm (third), defensive end Dexter Manley (fifth), linebacker Larry Kubin (sixth), wide receiver Charlie Brown (eighth), defensive tackle Darryl Grant (ninth) and tight end Clint Didier (12th).
None of the injuries that occurred in the 20-7 victory over Tampa Bay is considered serious. A sign that Theismann's bruised right knee is fine: He didn't come in for treatment yesterday at Redskin Park.