HERNDON, Va. -- Desmond Howard has won a Heisman Trophy, but now he'll try to join an even more exclusive club: The Posse.
"You've still got to earn that," Washington Redskins wide receiver Gary Clark said yesterday. "We don't just give that out."
Clark, who forms The Posse with Art Monk and Ricky Sanders, got his first firsthand look at Howard -- the team's top draft choice -- at the Redskins annual mini-camp yesterday and admitted he was impressed.
"He's basically what everybody thought he'd be," Clark said. "He's got great hands and good speed. The potential is there to be one of the best who ever played. We're glad to have him aboard."
Not that Clark is giving him an automatic invitation into the Posse. Standards are standards.
"When he gets his 1,000 yards [receiving], he'll get into the Posse, too," Clark said.
Clark then thought about it and said Howard has to do it "back-to-back" to become a member.
Whatever Clark decides is the actual requirement, Howard figures to eventually meet it.
Meanwhile, Howard seems happy to join a team with proven receivers.
"It's an opportunity to take my game to another level without having the added pressure [to be the top receiver]. I can just learn from them. I'm very excited," Howard said yesterday. "I couldn't wait to get to Washington and get this started."
If Clark's feelings are any indication, the Posse will give him a warm welcome. As usual, Monk, who rarely gives interviews, declined to comment.
But Clark figures the addition of another top receiver may prompt coach Joe Gibbs to call more passes, which will be good for all the receivers.
"We didn't throw a lot last year," Clark said. "We may throw more because of Desmond. It'd be a waste to have a talent like that sitting down."
Gibbs was cautious in his first-day assessment. "Basically, my approach is to give him plenty of time and wait and see before we start making any evaluations," he said.
Clark won't resent it if Howard gets a big contract. "I think the more money he makes, the more money I'm going to make. I hope he breaks the bank. That way I can start a bank," he said.
Clark has a year left on his contract, but hopes the Redskins tear it up and give him a new one. He thinks the Redskins have a better chance of repeating as Super Bowl champions if the players are happy with their contracts. They went 7-9 as defending champions in 1988 when he said they weren't happy with their contracts.
"The thing to do is keep management happy and keep the players happy," he said.
Howard brushed off contract talk. He wanted to talk about learning the system. He isn't looking to make a flashy start. "I'd rather learn to crawl before I walk," he said.
Clark said Howard was quiet with his teammates. "He's a nice guy. It looks like he's concentrating. He's not saying a lot," he said.
Howard, though, isn't afraid to make statements and take stands.
When he graduated from Michigan last week, he wore a sign "The King Verdict" on his mortarboard followed by "A Scar for Life" on the back of his gown.
It was an obvious reference to the acquittal of the white policemen accused of beating Rodney King that led to the Los Angeles riots.
When Howard was asked about his message, he said: "I think it's obvious. What more can be said?"
NOTES: LB Wilber Marshall underwent arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday. He was injured in the playoffs in January, but delayed the surgery because he had hoped the knee would heal. . . . Gibbs said he has met with QB Stan Humphries and S Alvin Walton, two players who have asked to be traded. Gibbs said he would try to accommodate them. Humphries apparently is on his way out; Walton's status is more up in the air. . . . Veteran RB Gerald Riggs took a pay cut to get invited to training camp, but he is a long shot to make the team.