CARLISLE, PA., JULY 27 -- The New York Giants still have four unsigned veterans out and the Philadelphia Eagles had 21 unsigned players at last count. So perhaps the Washington Redskins shouldn't feel too bad in having five veterans who haven't agreed to new deals -- Gerald Riggs, Darryl Grant, Markus Koch, Todd Bowles and Ravin Caldwell.
Linebacker Monte Coleman removed himself from that list today by agreeing to a three-year deal. Coleman, 32, negotiated the contract himself and will drive to Dickinson College for the signing Saturday.
"It wasn't that tough," he said. "I didn't expect to hold out or be late and we got it done. We both gave a little and that's the way it usually goes. I could have held out because it's important to get what you think you're worth. But it never came to that."
Coleman made $355,000 last season and probably got around $1.4 million for the three years.
However, the news on the other five isn't so encouraging. General Manager Charley Casserly talked to agents and players throughout the day and Coach Joe Gibbs also was attempting to talk to players. But at the moment, Grant and Bowles are almost certain not to be on the field Monday morning for the first full day of practice for the entire team.
Koch and Caldwell may be closer to deals, but Casserly said: "I wouldn't even venture a guess on these things. You never know what a guy is thinking."
Riggs began this winter as the most difficult signee and it's unclear whether or not that remains to be the case. Both sides are being tight-lipped about negotiations, although both say talks have been cordial.
Riggs made $530,000 last season and apparently wants a four-year deal worth about $1 million a year in base salary. The Redskins want to pay him a much lower base salary, but load the contract up with incentives so that if he does remain healthy, he'll get his money. Neither side has budged much from that stance.
"We're talking," said agent Kurt Schoeptler, "and that's about all I can say right now."
Meanwhile, Gibbs has been phoning several of the unsigned players to remind them how important it is to be in camp on time.
"We come in later than other teams and that's not a lot of time to get ready," he said. "That puts pressure on us to have everyone here. I'm not giving up because we've always been real good here. I know there have been problems, but not like other places. We go all out to get them in here. We've never tried to sweat guys."
These negotiations and last week's with nine draft choices have put getting Mark Rypien a new contract on the backburner.
Rypien, the fifth-rated quarterback in the NFL last season, is due to make $250,000 this year. The sides agree he deserves more, but disagree on how much.
"We're not getting there very fast," agent Ken Staninger said. "I expect to talk to Charley in the next 24 hours and we may have something to say on Monday. We're getting closer on number of years, but as far as base salary and incentives, we're not making much progress."
It appears Rypien wants about what Green Bay offered Don Majkowski -- $2.4 million over two years. The Redskins aren't offering anything close to that, not wanting to pay anyone more than Art Monk ($900,000) and Charles Mann (about $750,000).
The Redskins -- still mostly rookies and free agents -- will play their second scrimmage of camp at 1 p.m. Saturday against New England at Carlisle High. Each team will run 50 offensive plays as well as some seven-on-seven drills.
It's the last chance for Redskins rookies to shine before the veterans take the field Monday morning.
"There's no extra pressure on them," Gibbs said. "These guys have played under pressure for so long. It's just a matter of doing the best they can do."
Placekicker Chip Lohmiller and punter Ralf Mojsiejenko arrived Thursday night and had their first practices today. Lohmiller will kick field goals during the scrimmage.
Defensive lineman Milford Hodge and safety Brad Edwards will miss the scrimmage after each suffered a broken hand on Wednesday. Rookie defensive lineman Thomas Rayam is out with a sprained ankle and free agent receiver Paul Smith is out with a finger injury.
"We're just going to try to continue to evaluate," Gibbs said. "It's a good test. The Patriots have had their veterans in awhile, so it's either play hard or get killed."
Veteran Hogs Mark May and Joe Jacoby continued their rehabilitation from knee surgery this week. Both do rehabilitation work in the weight room, then watch most of practice in shorts and jerseys.
The Redskins hope Jacoby can return to work sometime during camp, but believe May might be back late in camp.
Likewise, with defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers, a Plan B signee. Geathers underwent reconstructive knee surgery and may be ready for full practices sometime near the end of training camp. . . .
Defensive lineman Kent Wells, a sixth-round draft pick from Nebraska, and free agent cornerback Roy Bennett have been impressive in early practices. . . .
The Redskins have a crowd of players at tight end, but one of those almost certain to make it is Ron Middleton. He was signed as a Plan B free agent in March, but that's only part of the story because his route to the Redskins is the most unusual of any training-camp story.
Middleton knows the territory. The Redskins have cut him three times at last count. They cut him twice in 1988 and re-signed him both times, then let him go at the end of the last training camp.
"When I left here, I never thought I'd be back," he said. "It just goes to show you God has a plan for your life. When I got cut the last time, my wife had just had a premature baby. I had medical bills and no jobs. But things worked out."
He caught on with Tampa Bay, but was waived and spent the entire season with the Cleveland Browns. A bulldog of a blocker at 6-feet-2, 255 pounds, he caught three passes in the Browns' playoff victory over Buffalo.