It was a bit ironic, but nonetheless told part of the story of the 1985 Washington Redskins. Quarterback Joe Theismann yesterday returned to Redskin Park for the first time since he broke his leg in the Nov. 18 game against the Giants. He was sitting in the locker room during practice when center Rick Donnalley came by on his way to do some running.
"How'ya feeling?" was the question that went both ways.
It's a question that is almost synonymous with the Redskins' offensive line.
"By this time of year, no one is 100 percent," Donnalley had said earlier.
Donnalley was going to run during the defensive portion of practice. The rest of it he spent watching in a sweatsuit because of the left shoulder he injured Sunday. Add to that lower back pains he occasionally has and the fractured hand he suffered in the same game in which Theismann broke his leg, and you have a pretty "handicapped" center, as Donnalley put it.
After Sunday's 35-8 loss to San Francisco, Donnalley said he dislocated his shoulder. Yesterday, he described the injury by making a ball and socket with his fist and hand, and then twisting the fist. Trainer Bubba Tyer said the arm may have come out of the socket a bit but then went back in, so he was calling it a sprain. Whatever you call it, it's sore.
But Donnalley wasn't the only offensive lineman who was listed as questionable because of two injuries. Guard Russ Grimm, who practiced only once last week because of a sprained left ankle, bruised the back of his right knee where the hamstring attaches. But like Donnalley, who can play with the busted hand, Grimm said the ankle is fine. It's the knee that makes him questionable.
Raleigh McKenzie worked at Grimm's left guard spot yesterday, with Joe Jacoby at left tackle and Jeff Bostic at center. As usual, Ken Huff was at right guard and Mark May at right tackle. Donnalley said the plan at the moment was for him not to start Sunday against Philadelphia. Grimm was not sure of his availability.
"The knee felt better than it did yesterday," Grimm said after treatment that included whirlpool, ultrasound and ice. "I'll just have to see how it feels at the end of the week."
Long after Sunday's game had ended and most of the Redskins had left the locker room, Grimm hobbled to his stall with his knee wrapped. After Grimm told a reporter about his bruised knee, linebacker Neal Olkewicz, who was sitting close by, said with a chuckle, "They're gonna put Grimmer's body in formaldehyde and show it to all the little kids who think they want to play football."
Donnalley also was in pretty bad shape when he came out of the game in the third quarter. "I guess I hit some of the nerves in there and didn't have any strength in the club arm," Donnalley said. "I played two more plays. The first was a pass, and I did okay, but the next play was third and two, and I got stuffed by the nose guard (Michael Carter, who stopped Keith Griffin for a two-yard loss).
"Because I had a different stance with the arm and snapping with one hand, I didn't have any strength. And it's hard enough to get leverage on the guy, anyway, with this hand, because you can't grab up in there (around the part of the shoulder pad that lies on the chest). That was the point: I thought I was hurting the team and had better come out."
The cast Donnalley wears has a sort of raised ring of fiberglass and plaster located about where one would wear a watch. It is there so that a bubble can be put over the hand to allow him to play. It's designed so that any frontal force against the hand is transferred back to the portion of the cast with the ring, thus protecting the injured hand. Donnalley said he has not further injured the hand by playing with the bubble cast. But it is a handicap.
While answering a question, Donnalley was trying to tie his shoes. When it was pointed out to him that he was taking forever to accomplish this normally easy task, he laughed and said, "Without these two fingers (thumb and index), I can't even get dressed. There are so many things like this you take for granted."
Outside linebacker Mel Kaufman did not practice yesterday because of the flu.