Skins' Goodburn hopes hang time extends to next season

Jack Mann

January 15, 1991|By Jack Mann

HERNDON, Va. -- "The first paragraph," Kelly Goodburn said as he opened the letter from his grandmother in Kansas City, "will be about the weather."

"I'm sorry the Chiefs lost," Grandma said in the first paragraph, then remembered to congratulate Kelly on Washington's success.

"It's been real cold here," the second paragraph began.

It was getaway day at Redskin Park, the end and the beginning. Clean out your locker. Take your year-end physical. Leave an address if you're going out of town. If you know what's good for you, don't leave town.

Most of the players will be back in a few days, lifting weights on schedule. Greg Manusky came in favored to win the middle linebacker job because he'd never missed a workout, all year. Gerald Riggs started with demerits because he'd done his offseason conditioning in Arizona, where he went to college.

"I wish I were staying here," said Goodburn, 28. "I have to go back to Kansas City and get married."

"Look at it this way," a senior citizen said: "You only get married twice."

"Don't ask me," said special teams coach Wayne Sevier. "I've had four."

"Oh, I want to get married," Goodburn said. "She wants me to come back and help with the wedding preparations."

Sara has been preparing by herself since Dec. 4, when the Redskins gave up on punter Ralf Mojsiejenko and signed Goodburn.

He was more or less successful in San Francisco Saturday. His four punts averaged a mediocre 33.0, but none of them was returned, so his gross was his net.

With a 30.4 net for his four regular-season games, Woodburn is a borderline Redskin. Sevier's "desirable" net is 36.

Acknowledging that punting is an area he'll have to "look at," coach Joe Gibbs yesterday dropped the expression "Plan B," referring to the list of 37 "protected" players the Redskins issue on Feb. 1.

Goodburn won't be on that list, but he'll probably be invited to a competition with a couple of other punters in camp at Carlisle, Pa.

Kelly and Bryan Barker pushed each other in the Kansas City camp this year and Woodburn seemed to have won. But he was cut after three games, in which his gross average was 38.4.

For the next 10 weeks Woodburn hung out in Kansas City, waiting for the phone to ring. To keep in playing shape he punted every day on a high school field, with a couple of kids shagging for him. Snapping the ball, softball-pitcher style, was Sara, his fiancee.

A man would have to do the right thing.

* Woodburn may have a better chance to be in Carlisle in August than Kelvin Bryant, who missed the last two games of the season with an injury.

Asked if he saw an expanded role for rookie Bryan Mitchell, Gibbs said he had shown ability as a kick returner and potential as a running back. "He could be the third-down back," Gibbs said.

Third-down back, a running back who can get open as a receiver, is a position that seems to have evolved in Bryant since the Redskins signed him when the USFL folded five years ago. His $700,000-a-year contract expired this season.

* Pass rusher James "Jumpy" Geathers accepted congratulations for a generally effective game in San Francisco and a specific sack of Joe Montana, knocking him out of the game for one play, just before halftime.

Jumpy said goodbyes, deadpan. "I'll be one Plan B," he said. "Now, ain't you guys gonna ask why I'd choose the Redskins again?"

The $175,000 signing bonus would be one reason, the three-year, $1.35 million contract another. The Skins' management gave Geathers, 30, that kind of money when he was coming off reconstructive knee surgery. He will be protected.

* In his reaffirmation of faith in quarterback Mark Rypien, Gibbs said he is "young, stepped up another notch" and might become an "elite" quarterback. So might backup Stan Humphries, Gibbs said, "but they haven't done that yet."

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