CHAPEL HILL, N.C., AUG. 10 -- Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs has not seen the tapes of the scrimmage between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles last week. But he has heard about the brawl that interrupted it and he remembers an unpleasant trip to the Astrodome in 1988.
With that in mind, Gibbs said he would say a few words to his players "about staying in control" when the Redskins open the preseason schedule Saturday night against the Falcons and their new coach, Jerry Glanville.
Glanville has dressed the Falcons in black jerseys and put black helmets on their heads and has repeatedly said he hopes to bring the intimidating style he made popular in Houston to his new team.
Gibbs believes that may mean a few fights, especially during the first game.
"I remember my first game," he said, "and I was more jacked up than normal. He's trying to make an impression and he has a reputation for going after players anyway. It ought to be interesting."
Gibbs said he would warn his players about getting drawn into trouble, adding, "Common sense is the key. Play smart and control your emotions. If you get in a fight, you're out of the game. Maybe all their guys will get thrown out and we'll win by default. They'll call us cowards, but we'll get the win."
The Redskins have prepared for the Falcons by studying their personnel as well as the formations used by the Oilers last season.
"What I fear most is that we haven't seen them," he said. "You think you know what to do. You've seen the Oilers' films. But they may come out in who knows what."
The Redskins received no word today on what a St. Louis specialist had to say about cornerback Brian Davis's pulled quad muscle. It is similar to injuries he suffered in 1987 and 1988 and he sought a second medical opinion on why the injury reoccurs.
Rookie quarterback Cary Conklin said his injured right knee had made steady improvement and he will be available to play Saturday. Gibbs said Conklin probably won't play, but he is hopeful Conklin will be able to return to full practices next week.
Likewise, Jeff Rutledge threw a few passes today. He definitely won't play against the Falcons, but may practice by the end of next week.
"Maybe we'll get out of surgery on both those guys," Gibbs said. "Both are coming along."
Doctors said Rutledge suffered a slight shoulder separation Saturday night when he was decked by Buffalo linebacker Marvcus Patton.
The Redskins also are hopeful that tight end-special teams standout John Brandes will avoid surgery because of what he called "irritation in the knee." Trainers have detected looseness in the knee, and while Brandes definitely is out of Saturday's game, he believes he will be back at practice next week.
"It's getting better," he said. "I've had irritation in there on and off for a while and it's nothing to worry about."
Chip Lohmiller connected on six of seven field goals in scrimmages, all of them from 40 yards or more. His only miss was from 57. Lohmiller said he spent the summer working on his long-range field goals and that his goal for this season is to be better from distances of 40 yards and longer.
Last season he was 26 for 28 from inside the 40, but only three of 12 outside the 40.
"I worked hard on kicking the longer field goals," he said. "That was one thing I was disappointed in. The year before, I'd gone seven for 10 outside the 40 and missed a couple of shorter ones. I really wanted to get a good feeling about the longer ones this year and so far, I've been in a pretty good groove."