CARLISLE, Pa. -- On the first day of full squad workouts in this quaint college burg, the Washington Redskins were greeted with RTC sultry heat and swirling rhetoric.
The heat they can live with. It was the rhetoric, though, that threatened to turn training camp into a sopping, melodramatic mini-series.
Here it was, two weeks before the first preseason game and a whole 41 days before the start of the regular season, and the Redskins' hierarchy was breaking out in a cold sweat over the absence of quarterback Mark Rypien. OK, maybe it wasn't a cold sweat.
Rypien became the Skins' last holdout yesterday when cornerback Martin Mayhew agreed to a two-year deal and headed for the team's Dickinson College camp.
While Rypien cooled his heels in Spokane, Wash., Redskins coach Joe Gibbs bemoaned each and every snap his starting quarterback missed during two steamy workouts.
"Everything from this point on takes on major importance," Gibbs said. "We only have four weeks to get ready, and you only get so many snaps. Anybody who misses anything practice-wise now has missed a lot . . . it's crucial."
After team owner Jack Kent Cooke watched the afternoon practice, he sent a blunt message to his disgruntled quarterback, courtesy of a Washington TV station. Asked what he would say to Rypien, Cooke said, "I'd like to see you come to camp. I think you're a bloody damn idiot if you don't come soon."
The Redskins reportedly are offering Rypien a contract worth $1.1 million a year and swells to $1.4 million with performance incentives. Rypien reportedly is seeking $1.67 million per season.
And if Cooke's insinuation had the ring of "final offer," Rypien's representative didn't get the message.
"If it is [a take-it-or-leave-it offer], I'm not aware of it," Ken Staninger said from his office in Missoula, Mont.
Staninger declined to confirm or deny the reported contract numbers, but issued this semi-disclaimer: "We're not asking for the moon."
One source of angst for Rypien and Staninger is the Redskins' seeming lack of appreciation for the quarterback's performance a year ago. He came back from midseason knee surgery to guide the team into the playoffs. Once in the postseason tourney, he helped upset the Philadelphia Eagles, but then threw three interceptions in a ragged loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Redskins have won 13 of the last 17 games Rypien has started. He is 20-12 lifetime as their main man. Yet the knock on him is that he performs poorly in big games and continues to be erratic.
"That's the biggest point in negotiations," Staninger said of the perceived lack of appreciation. "I don't know why it is that way."
As of last night, Staninger hadn't talked with Redskins general manager Charley Casserly since last Thursday. Staninger said he "took the weekend off," but attempted to reach Casserly yesterday.
Casserly insists the negotiations remain cordial.
"Either we have a deal or we don't, and we don't have a deal," Casserly said. "[But] we're not mad at each other."
Rypien's absence means more reps for backups Stan Humphries, Jeff Rutledge and Cary Conklin. It was left for Rod Dowhower, who coaches the quarterbacks, to sound the voice of reason yesterday.
"If he's staying in shape," Dowhower said, "he ought to be able to come in and do all right.
"But still there are a lot of adjustments to be made. What he's missing is being in pads and getting a pass rush. I know he's got things he's got to take care of for his family. But the longer he waits, the less of that he gets."