HERNDON, Va. -- Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien had surgery on his sprained knee today and will be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
A damaged ligament was repaired and Rypien was placed on injured reserve.
Meanwhile, Gary Hogeboom was fitted with a Redskin uniform today. Journeyman Hogeboom is just passing through, but Mark Rypien has to wonder whether he'll have a job to come back to.
Stan Humphries assumed Rypien's first-string duties when Mark was felled two minutes before halftime Sunday. However tentatively, Humphries finished the messy 19-15 victory. He will have his first NFL start at Phoenix Sunday.
Dr. Charles Jackson, the Redskins' orthopedic surgeon, said Rypien would be fitted with a "leg immobilizer" for three weeks.
Will the starting job still be his after two months?
"That depends on what happens between now and then," coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday. "What Stan does, what the team is doing."
Redskin-watchers will recall 1987, the glorious Super Bowl year. Jay Schroeder, the anointed starter, suffered a shoulder sprain after nine plays of the opening game against the Eagles. Doug Williams finished the game and won it.
Williams lost the second game, on a missed extra point. After the four-week strike the Redskins went back to work against the Jets and Schroeder had his starting position back.
The quasi-official explanation was: "You don't lose your job to an injury."
After a 16-for-46, two-interception day in a 31-27 defeat by the Eagles, Schroeder started 5-for-10 against Detroit and was yanked. Williams pulled it out with two touchdown passes and presumably had won the job back.
On Thanksgiving Day, preparing for the Giants, Williams strained his back. He suggested he might not be 100 percent for Sunday and Schroeder started. Jay threw for 331 yards and three TDs. The next Sunday Williams was ready, but Schroeder started. Williams believed he had lost his job to an injury, and said so.
Jay had another awful half in the season finale. Doug bailed him out and the rest was happy history for everybody except Schroeder. But a precedent was set.
But which precedent?
Rypien, who waited behind Schroeder and Williams for 2 1/2 seasons for his chance, has been sporadic this season. His "reading" (choice of receivers) was as sketchy as his throwing against the Forty Niners, Rypien acknowledged.
Gibbs was "impressed" by Humphries Sunday. "He wasn't flustered," Gibbs said, and recalled some "very athletic" things Humphries had done in pre- season games. "The way he sprinted to the left against the Vikings and still made contact" was an example.
Humphries was approaching the 2 1/2 -year point in his waiting for a starting chance. "This will be his test," Gibbs declared. "He's worked three years and he's got to seize it."
Humphries, a sixth-round draft choice out of Northeast Louisiana in 1988, spent his first year on injured reserve with a putative blood disorder. Last year he played some mop-up in two games.
Had Rypien needed the recovery time, Gibbs said, they would have "put him down ( for the four-week minimum time on injured reserve)."
Veteran Jeff Rutledge, on injured reserve, may be activated, Gibbs said; it "all depends."
"It's important to understand," Gibbs said, "that those reserve rules kinda catch up with you."
Putting Rutledge on IR, with a sore shoulder Rutledge thought was ready for combat, was a device to save a roster spot for somebody else. "We made it for three weeks," Gibbs concluded.
Ex-Cowboy, Colt and Cardinal Hogeboom, an 11th-year veteran at 32, "could jump in and bail us out," Gibbs said. "He's been in our system [the one-back offense with the Cardinals, who cut him a week before the opener]. And he might be able to give us a good look into the Cardinals' offense."
Hogeboom, who started 13 games for Phoenix last year, reported to Redskin Park this morning and took his physical. He passed.