CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 2 -- Don Warren, spending his 12th summer with the Washington Redskins, still vividly remembers his first. It was 1979 and Jimmy Carter was in the White House, Jack Kent Cooke had assumed control of the Redskins and Jack Pardee was a struggling coach.
And George Allen's Over-The-Hill Gang hadn't quite reached the bottom of the final hill.
"Monte Coleman, Neal Olkewicz and I came in together," Warren said, "and the Redskins still had guys like Coy Bacon and Diron Talbert, who didn't treat rookies as well as they're treated today."
Those three rookies were spending the first of 11 summers together, but they could not have guessed it then. Warren smiles now at the memory of three scared kids "spending camp sitting together, clinging to each other. We were all just hoping to make the team."
What they did not know was that, while they were watching the end of the Allen era, they were beginning one of their own. They would play in three Super Bowls, win two of them and help make the Redskins one of the NFL's best teams in the '80s.
How special were they? Olkewicz retired after last season, and Coleman and Warren are about to become only the second and third Redskins ever to play in three decades.
The other guy with those credentials is a prosperous rancher in Rotan, Tex. -- Sammy Baugh.
The Redskins have all sorts of stories in this camp: the competition in the backfield, the sorting out of the defensive line and the search for defensive consistency. And the Posse and the Hogs and the effort to blend some of those 12 Plan B signees onto the roster.
But there is no story quite like that of tight end Don Warren, who for almost all of his 12 seasons has had to fight for a spot on the roster even while typifing exactly what Coach Joe Gibbs has wanted from his Redskins.
Warren has survived by coming "to almost every camp with a little bit of fear. They bring in someone every year, and in the days before the 80-man roster limits, there'd be nine tight ends in here. The only times I really felt safe were after the two Super Bowl wins. I figured they wouldn't want to change the formula that much."
He has worked hard, been a credit to the organization on and off the field and taken pride in executing plays large and small. Ask him about touchdowns and he says, "I don't know. I think I have seven or eight. Maybe six."
He has six, including the last one of Joe Theismann's career that Monday night a few minutes before Lawrence Taylor snapped the quarterback's leg.
A picture of that pass hangs in Warren's den -- "A high point for me," he said, smiling, "but I don't think it was much of a night for Joe."
Press him on memories, though, and he comes back to days when he treasured a victory instead of a headline. When Timmy Smith rushed for 204 yards in Super Bowl XXII, it was Don Warren clearing a large portion of the acreage.
Warren was one of the original Hogs, if not by position certainly by spirit, and this summer, as they have begun to dismantle them, he is still going strong. Gibbs calls him "one of our most valuable players. A great Redskin, a guy who sets an example."
Gibbs has complimented him so often the past few years that others have begun to notice, especially John Madden, who last season put him on the All-Madden team, an honor that Warren said "ranks up there with anything I ever had. Madden's thing is to get hard-working guys that can be counted on every week. I hope people say that about me."
Warren proved that again this summer when, at the age of 34, he was one of four Redskins -- along with Jimmie Johnson, Greg Manusky and Terry Orr -- who did not miss a summer workout session.
He has never been the biggest, fastest or strongest Redskin, yet he always did what was asked and did it without complaining. When Gibbs brought the one-back offense to Washington, "I knew I had a chance to hang around," Warren said. "I could see it was a system that asked the kind of things that I could do. It relied on a blocking tight end and I've never been afraid to stick my head in there."
This camp must have a familiar feel for him, because the Redskins list seven players as either tight ends or H-backs. It is unlikely they will keep more than four or five, so once more he has had to come here and prove he can take on linebackers at the line as well as get downfield and catch an occasional pass -- which he has.
"I've always felt I had to work the hardest to stay around," Warren said. "There's just so much talent out there and there are going to be guys bigger or faster than me. The thing is, this career won't last that long. Not for any of us. And you want it to last as long as you can. The more you're around, the more you want to be here."
Another key came six years ago, when he decided to leave his native California for good. Gibbs was urging players to make their year-round homes near Redskin Park and to take part in the supervised work all summer.
Now, Warren works at Redskin Park five or six days a week during the offseason, usually arriving by 8 a.m. and spending three or four hours in either the weight-room or the coaches' summer classroom.
He is at that peculiar point in his career where he enjoys everything, where he now realizes how much he will miss it when it does end. The Redskins urge players to make football their only occupation and Warren has done that.
Looking ahead to the inevitable end, he says it has been important to know he has gotten all he can out of his talents and that whenever he leaves, the Redskins will remember him for being good and dedicated.
"You'd think after all these years I'd be tired of it," he said. "But I'm not at all. It's still fun. As hard as it is pounding those weights, I'll know I miss it when I'm done. I'll miss being in there with the guys and working for the same goal. I really don't know anything else. This is what I've dedicated myself to and I'm going to do it as long as it's still fun."
Redskins Notes: Defensive end Fred Stokes was held out of work today after suffering a shoulder injury Wednesday morning. Someone popped him on the pad "and the entire area went numb," he said.
He believes it may have popped out of joint and instantly popped back in. The Redskins say they will give him a few days off to see how it responds. He is definitely out of Saturday night's scrimmage in Buffalo.
"The main thing is not to come back too soon," Stokes said. "You don't want to get in a situation where the first time you get hit, it pops out again." . . .
Gibbs welcomed running back Gerald Riggs to his first workout, saying, "It's good to have him out here. We'll get him some work Saturday (in the scrimmage at Buffalo)." . . .
The Redskins have a lengthy injury list, including Art Monk and Ricky Sanders. Both missed this afternoon's practice with strained hamstrings. . . . Cornerback Brian Davis (quad) and tight end Ken Whisenhunt (knee) also were held out. . . . Mark May had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee at Arlington Hospital. . . . When Riggs signed his contract, free agent tackle John Durden was released.