The Washington Redskins, concerned about veteran Mark Moseley's performance in the last four games, have been in contact with former University of Maryland kicker Jess Atkinson and also are "strongly" considering trying punter Steve Cox on field goals next season, General Manager Bobby Beathard said yesterday.
Moseley, who missed eight of his last 15 field goal attempts, said yesterday it comes as no surprise that his job appears to be in jeopardy.
"That's the norm. People jump on top of me," he said. "I'm sure I'll be crucified over the next six months for the last four games.
"I'm sure I've given the people who don't like me (in the organization) a good 'in' to do what they've wanted to do for a long time."
It also appears that quarterback Jay Schroeder, who replaced Joe Theismann when he broke his leg in November, has worked his way into the top spot on the 1986 spring depth chart.
When asked if Schroeder, who led the 10-6 Redskins to a 5-1 finish, deserves a chance to be the No. 1 quarterback, Coach Joe Gibbs said, "Yes."
"I don't think you could have asked any more of Jay," Gibbs said.
If Theismann, 36, returns -- and he has vowed he will -- the two quarterbacks are expected to have quite a summertime duel at the team's Carlisle, Pa., training camp.
But Schroeder, 24, appears to have the early edge.
"The way he played, it certainly indicates it would be difficult to unseat him," said quarterbacks coach Jerry Rhome.
Schroeder finished with an official league passing rating of 73.8; Theismann, 59.6.
Schroeder completed 112 of 209 passes (53.6 percent) for 1,458 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions. Theismann was 167 of 301 (55.5 percent) for 1,774 yards, eight touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Decisions might not be made for months on the fates and futures of the three most visible Redskins: Theismann; Moseley, 37, who blamed a change in holders as the main reason for the missed field goals, and running back John Riggins, 36, who is said to be considering retirement.
Gibbs said he expects Riggins to "come and talk" sometime in the offseason.
The Redskins do not plan to begin formal personnel meetings until next month, Beathard said.
And it's likely that strong safety Tony Peters, 32, will not return to the team for an 11th National Football League season.
"I realize my position here is probably at the end," Peters said as he and his teammates cleaned out their lockers at Redskin Park, a day after being eliminated from the playoffs by San Francisco's 31-16 victory over Dallas. It is the first time the playoffs have gone on without the Redskins since 1981.
"With the injuries I've had in the last couple years, I don't think I would have much of a future here," said Peters, who lost his job to rookie Raphel Cherry after suffering a pulled groin in Week 10.
"After you start and then get hurt, what happens is sometimes people lose confidence in you," he said.
Peters did not go into specifics. On Sunday, assistant head coach/ defense Richie Petitbon said it probably would be "tough" for Peters to make the team in '86.
"I have no doubt that's true," Peters said.
Twice in the last four seasons, Moseley has faced stiff challenges from young kickers: Danny Miller in 1982 and Tony Zendejas in 1985. Both times he won, although the 1985 decision to trade Zendejas to the Houston Oilers was known to be controversial within the organization.
He said he expects another fight in 1986.
"There's always someone out there," Moseley said.
Beathard said the Redskins will "go out and find the best competition available at kicker, just as we do at any other position."
That might include one kicker already on the team and one close to home. Cox, who kicked a 60-yard field goal in 1984 for Cleveland, will return to compete with Jeff Hayes on punts and kickoffs.
It is likely field goals will be added to Cox's agenda.
"I would say that would be given strong consideration," Beathard said.
Atkinson, a rookie who was signed and cut by New England, the New York Giants and St. Louis this season, has spoken to the Redskins, but no commitments have been made, Beathard said.
"We're considering (signing) him," Beathard said.
If Atkinson has a weakness, it is considered to be his range on field goals and kickoffs. But with Hayes or Cox on hand, the Redskins have not required their placekicker to kick off. Atkinson's field-goal range is about 40-45 yards.
Moseley's last eight misses came from 24 to 47 yards out. He made eight of 13 field goals from 30 to 39 yards; seven of 12 from 40 to 49 yards.
He finished the season making 22 of 34 attempts.
"We have to be productive," Gibbs said yesterday. "Everybody knows that. I don't think Mark was productive. That's not what we count on at that position and (what) we've learned to expect from him."
Moseley said yesterday the change in holders from Theismann to Schroeder hurt him, and his misses have made him "lose some confidence" in himself, confidence he said he will regain in offseason practice.
"It all started when Joe went down," Moseley said. "I missed an extra point against the Giants, then the Pittsburgh game went well (three for three), then we started having problems.
"Jay had so much on his mind when he came in and had to play quarterback, I think it was asking too much for him to give perfect holds, too . . . Jay did a darn good job, but I just couldn't get used to it. I never got to feeling comfortable."
Moseley said he "faulted" the lack of practice time Schroeder received as a holder.
"We had both our top two holders (Hayes and Theismann) go out. I think we took it for granted we'd have one of them," he said.
Moseley is aware some might think he has played his final game with the Redskins.
"Coach Gibbs will make the best decision," he said. "He's been fair with me . . . But I'm definitely not finished.
"People better not start throwing dirt in my face yet."