The Washington Redskins watched a well-calculated personnel move get snarled in a painful leg cramp at practice yesterday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, they released interim linebacker Chris Keating to make room for veteran linebacker Monte Coleman, who had been replaced by Keating four weeks ago when Coleman went on injured reserve with a strained right hamstring.
Coleman, however, was not officially activated. The Redskins wanted to see him practice first, and, as things turned out, it was a most fortunate nonmove.
During one-on-one drills at Redskin Park, Coleman pushed off on his right foot and felt his hamstring cramp, forcing him to leave practice and placing the Redskins in quite a quandary.
Today they will evaluate the severity of Coleman's injury and do one of two things: use the second of five allowed moves off injured reserve to activate him as scheduled later in the week, or call Keating in Boston and ask him to leave his job as a stockbroker (again) and come back.
Coach Joe Gibbs, disappointed by the news on Coleman, originally wanted to resolve the situation last night.
"We decided to wait until the end of the week (to activate Coleman), and thank goodness we did," Gibbs said. "Chris will probably get a call tonight."
But Charles Casserly, assistant general manager, said later they will wait until today, perhaps because they found out Coleman did not repull the hamstring, according to head trainer Bubba Tyer.
Coleman's return has been anticipated for several reasons, not the least of which was his 10 1/2 sacks a year ago. He also is considered a valuable special teams player, although Coach Wayne Sevier said Coleman would not play on special teams this week even if he returns.
Keating played on all but the punt protection team, and Sevier said he would be missed.
"It is a loss. We had a unit working together for a couple weeks and you take one player out, maybe two (tight end Anthony Jones is listed as questionable with a sprained left knee), you lose a little continuity," Sevier said.
Sevier said linebacker Stuart Anderson, who has had a sore right knee, probably will return to the special teams after a two-week absence.
Injuries continue to bother the Redskins (3-4), who will travel to Cleveland to play the Browns (4-3) Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tight end Clint Didier, who has caught 19 passes this season but only three in the last two games, said yesterday that he was not "100 percent" in the loss to the New York Giants last Sunday.
He bruised a kneecap in the Dallas game Sept. 9, he said, and it has been "tender" since then. Didier won't say which knee it is. "They might go after it if I do," he said, smiling.
"I banged it pretty good a couple times on the tartan surface in New York," he said. "I wasn't 100 percent . . . I was running as hard as I could, but I just was not playing to my potential."
Didier said the injury is not the only reason he hasn't caught more passes.
"It's a lot of things," he said. "There are always plays in there for everybody, but a lot depends on the coverage we get and what's there."
Quarterback Joe Theismann, who has thrown 12 interceptions and just four touchdown passes and has the worst ranking of any NFC quarterback, said of Didier: "We count on him, we weigh on him heavily . . . Who knows the whys and wherefores (for the dwindling receptions)."
Theismann said he has "to accept the blame and responsibility" for the problems with the passing game.
"I'm going to concentrate on the things I have to do to help the ball club win and make sure I don't overstep my bounds and force things to happen."
No. 3 receiver Calvin Muhammad, who appeared to be used less than No. 4 receiver Malcolm Barnwell in practice yesterday, did not want to discuss the subject.
Muhammad, who has caught just two passes in the last five games, did make a brief statement: "Pertaining to the situation at hand," he said, "I really feel it's all about timing, and when it's God's will, I'll come back and respond, on the field and off."
There was good news and bad news along the offensive line, again all injury-related.
Left tackle Joe Jacoby (strained right knee) went through some drills but said his knee "still felt pretty weak." Jacoby expects to be ready for the Browns, as does wide receiver Art Monk (sprained left shoulder), who participated in all the drills.
"I'm hopeful," was the extent of Gibbs' prognosis on the two Pro Bowl players, both of whom missed the Giants game.
Center Jeff Bostic, who hyperextended his right elbow when he played guard against the Giants, watched most of practice. Sevier said Bostic, the team's long snapper, will not practice with the kicking teams until Friday, but did not expect that to upset the rhythm of punter Steve Cox.
Guard R.C. Thielemann, who has been on injured reserve for three weeks with a torn ligament in his right knee, said he was examined by Dr. John Garrett, his team doctor when he played in Atlanta, and will be able to begin practicing in 2 1/2 weeks.
Only then, Thielemann said, will he know if he will be able to return this season.