CARLISLE, Pa. -- When Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs announced last week that young Cary Conklin and veteran Jeff Rutledge would start the first two exhibition games, he added one stipulation.
"That's what my plans are. If I want to change them, I reserve the right -- as long as I check with you guys first -- to do something else. OK?" Gibbs said.
Nobody will be surprised if Conklin persuaded him Saturday night to do something else.
After watching the videotape of the team's 22-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., Gibbs said yesterday that Conklin was a "bright spot" for the team.
Gibbs still wouldn't name his starter Saturday except to say, "I think we're going to play him [Conklin] a lot."
As long as Mark Rypien is holding out, Gibbs is going to want to give Conklin as much playing time as he can. Conklin went all the way against the Dolphins and threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns. Gibbs wants the 24-year-old quarterback to develop as quickly as he can.
"I think he did a good job of reading things, getting the ball thrown quick. He made some real good throws, he got hit some. I think he had a good scrimmage," Gibbs said.
Actually, the NFL called it a preseason game, but the Redskins generally played it like a scrimmage.
They committed 11 penalties, fumbled four times, losing one, and rushed for only 48 yards in 20 carries.
After the game, Gibbs said, "Overall, I thought we were way, way, way off. That was bad. Goodness, gracious, some of that stuff was awful."
After viewing the tape, Gibbs' opinion hadn't changed much. He said it was "just bad football" and didn't take any consolation in the fact his veterans had been in camp only a week.
"Hey, they haven't been in camp that long, either, and they looked better than we did," he said.
Conklin, meanwhile, said the loss overshadowed his good showing.
"When you lose, it kind of puts a damper on the game," he said.
Conklin, who has yet to play in a regular-season game and wants to win the backup job, said he doesn't want to be viewed as just marking time until Rypien ends his holdout.
"It's going to be a big year for me, I've said that from the start, whether Mark's here or not," he said.
"I just want to take a step up from what I did last year and improve a notch."
He certainly took a step up Saturday night.
NOTES: Chip Lohmiller, who was wide left with a 35-yard field-goal attempt with 3:15 left, said, "I don't usually hit a ball like that. It was a funny rotation. It was one of those things where you miss a kick once in a while.". . . LB Boone Powell, a ninth-round draft pick, and LB Ted Rogers, signed as a free agent last year, suffered knee injuries. Powell is likely to undergo surgery and might be out for the year. . . . Conklin was sacked twice and took several other hits as the Redskins played with a makeshift line. Ray Brown and Thomas Rayam were forced to go most of the way at tackle except for a brief stint by Mo Elewonibi because Jim Lachey is holding out, Joe Jacoby and Ed Simmons are ailing and Mark Adickes had back spasms. . . There has been no progress in the Rypien, Lachey, Darrell Green and Desmond Howard holdouts.