Gibbs hopes to turn out carbon-copy QBs Conklin, Hakel roll off assembly line

July 25, 1992|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

CARLISLE, Pa. -- Joe Gibbs has put together something of an assembly line for quarterbacks.

The only coach to win the Super Bowl with three different quarterbacks -- and the only one to get to the National Football Conference title game with four different ones -- is already working on his new models.

In the Washington Redskins rookie scrimmage against the New York Jets today, two quarterbacks who have yet to take a snap in a regular-season game -- Cary Conklin and rookie Chris Hakel -- will get a chance to display their progress.

Analyzing Hakel's potential, Gibbs said, "He's big, strong, bright, so he kind of fit the mold. You kind of fall into that as a coach when you have success with Ryp [Mark Rypien], [Jay] Schroeder, guys like that. You have a tendency to go back that way."

Conklin, 6 feet 4, 230 pounds, and Hakel, a 6-1, 225, have the size Gibbs likes in his quarterbacks and are bright guys who quickly learn the complicated reads in his offense.

Since Conklin is 24, Hakel is 23 and Rypien -- assuming he signs -- still has a number of good years left at 31, the Redskins may wind up with a glut at the position if both Conklin and Hakel develop into first-rate quarterbacks. But Gibbs feels you can never be too rich, too thin or have too many quarterbacks.

Conklin, a fourth-round draft pick out of Washington in 1990, has already followed in Rypien's footsteps by spending two years being groomed on the injured reserve list.

"I think it's pretty much similar to the track I'm taking -- the first two years on IR and then make a move this year and get myself up there where I can compete for a job. That's how I think he kind of did it in his third and fourth years. Hopefully, I can take a step up this year and become a good solid player," Conklin said.

Hakel, meanwhile, is just starting the development process. A fourth-round draft pick this year out of William and Mary, nobody will be surprised if the Redskins find a way to get him on the injured reserve list before the season begins.

For different reasons, the rookie scrimmage today is important for both players.

Conklin played well in the preseason last year and wants to continue to make progress. Hakel wants to show he's learning quickly. This may be the most action he gets all year.

"As a coach, you're kind of looking for things that kind of flash. Sometimes, in that very first scrimmage, you go, 'Hey, that guy make a couple of great plays.' It's kind of getting you thinking [the guy can play]. That's why it's so important. I remember Ryp's first scrimmage. He didn't have good protection a couple of times and he stood in there and got blasted and he still threw some good passes. He showed a toughness [out there]," Gibbs said.

Hakel, who grew up in Mechanicsburg, Pa., about 15 miles from the team's training camp and was a frequent visitor in past years, is treating it like a real game.

"I have to look at it that way [a game]. You only get a limited amount of opportunities to make an impression as a rookie and this is it," Hakel said.

Hakel said he never even thought about the possibility of playing for the Redskins when he used to visit training camp.

"Not once in all those years did I ever think I'd be the one out there," he said.

While it'll be a thrill for Hakel to just get on the field, Conklin hopes to take the first step toward winning the backup job.

If he shows he can handle it, the Redskins are likely to trade Stan Humphries, who'll only work in the seven-on-seven drills today -- because it's mainly a rookie scrimmage.

Conklin would then be more than willing to wait his turn behind Rypien.

"I just want to be patient. I'm not going to rush anything. Mark's the Super Bowl MVP and I don't think anybody is going to come in here and beat him out. You've got [to] be realistic about the situation," he said.

But if Rypien is serious about being a $4 million player and holds out a long time, Conklin could wind up seeing a lot of action.

Gibbs could be forced to try out his newest model sooner than he wants to.

NOTES: The Redskins signed DB Johnny Thomas and put RB Joe Mickles, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Thursday, on the waived-injured list. . . . Ken Staninger, the agent for Rypien, said he had his first talks in a week with GM Charley Casserly on Thursday night, but that no progress was made. Rypien's holdout will enter its second week tomorrow. . . . Forget the Super Bowl. The real sign of Redskins mania in Washington is that today's scrimmage -- as usual -- will be televised live on Channel 5 ( WTTG) at 1 p.m. "People get on our case for doing it, but it sells [commercials] and it gets good ratings," a station official said. . . . The Redskins open the exhibition season next Saturday in Orlando, Fla., against the Miami Dolphins. They play an extra game because of their game in London against San Francisco.

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