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CHARGERS : Beathard Backs Quarterbacks Despite Rumor of Deal

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Vic, the gabby proprietor and caterer to the stars down at the LaFiesta Deli, wants more inside information.

He can’t believe the Chargers will play with just John Friesz and Bob Gagliano at quarterback.

“You can tell me,” he said “What quarterback are the Chargers really going after? Phil Simms, right? Stan Humphries, right?”

Wrong. Not yet.

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General Manager Bobby Beathard said Friday the Chargers are not in position to add another quarterback at this time.

“Unless somebody comes up with a veteran quarterback that we can’t turn down, and that’s not going to happen, we’re going with what we have,” Beathard said. “We’re hoping what our team will do is play well and keep the pressure off our inexperienced quarterback.”

NFL insiders believe Humphries will be wearing a Charger uniform before this season is completed. Joe Gibbs, Redskin head coach, has been openly critical of Humphries’ conditioning, and although Humphries thought he would have the chance to compete for the team’s starting position, Gibbs did not play him in the team’s final two exhibition games.

The Redskins had a scout at the Chargers’ exhibition game with the Raiders, although Washington is not scheduled to play either team this year. John Friesz’s explosive 17-for-19 performance probably rendered that excursion a waste of money.

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There has been widespread speculation in Washington recently that the Redskins were trying to deal Humphries before the final cut to 47 players. They exchanged phone messages with Beathard, who tried to trade for him on draft day earlier this year, but Beathard did not make an offer this week.

Humphries has started five of the nine games he has played in the NFL, and has completed 96 of 166 passes for 1,106 yards with four touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

The Redskins are crowded at quarterback with starter Mark Rypien, Humphries, Cary Conklin and Jeff Rutledge. Rypien and Conklin shared most of the playing time in exhibition play, and the team is high on Conklin, a fourth-round choice last year.

“A lot of people back in Washington have speculated that we will get Stan Humphries,” Beathard said. “But I don’t think they would trade with us.

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“We thought they were going to put Stan on injured reserve, but they made him their second quarterback. They put the other guy (Conklin) on injured reserve.”

The Redskins found no market for Humphries, and temporarily alleviated the traffic jam at quarterback by placing Conklin on injured reserve. Humphries will work as backup to Rypien and Rutledge will be No. 3.

Conklin reportedly came down with a knee injury, the kind of ailment that was going to force the Chargers to put Gagliano on injured reserve until Billy Joe Tolliver was traded to Atlanta.

Gagliano recovered almost overnight from his knee problem and has returned to practice as Friesz’s backup.

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The Redskins probably will not be in position to entertain offers for Humphries until after the fourth week of the season when Conklin becomes eligible to come off injured reserve. The NFL trading deadline follows two weeks later (Oct. 8).

Humphries, 6-2, 223, was Beathard’s sixth-round pick in 1988. Coincidently, Friesz became Beathard’s sixth-round pick in 1990.

“I’m just not sure Washington would deal with us even if it decided to do something like that,” said Beathard, who worked as Washington’s general manager for 11 years. “We worked that deal out with them for the No. 1 pick to get (guard Eric) Moten during the draft, but I’m not sure they’d do something with a player.”

The Redskins reportedly intend to wait until the demand for quarterbacks increases in the coming weeks. The Cowboys did this last season by holding on to Steve Walsh until they found a deal to their liking with New Orleans.

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Friesz’s play in the first four weeks of the season will undoubtedly clarify the Chargers’ interest in Humphries.

Simms’ availability, meanwhile, became a topic of conversation for the Chargers in the late stages of training camp. But Beathard said he did not seek a trade for the veteran.

“I talked with (Giant general manager) George Young about Simms, but it wasn’t an inquiry,” Beathard said. “He told me they were going to keep both of those guys (Simms and Jeff Hostetler). He was very firm about keeping them both. And I think they should.”

Vic, the deli man, will not be pleased.

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Kitrick Taylor, the Chargers’ No. 3 receiver and starting punt returner, was scheduled to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Friday and will miss Sunday’s regular-season opener in Pittsburgh.

Henning said wide receiver Nate Lewis will return punts and will be backed up by defensive back Donnie Elder. Lewis and Elder are also expected to return kicks. The team would also like to use Eric Bieniemy and Shawn Jefferson on kickoff returns.

Coach Dan Henning said results from Taylor’s surgery will determine if the team is to place him on injured reserve. If they do, running back Marion Butts will take his place on the roster.

If the Chargers elect to keep Taylor on their roster, receiver Joe Weinberg appears to be the likely candidate to be released to make room for Butts.

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“Butts will play,” Henning said. “He’ll be on the opening kickoff team.”

Rod Bernstine, however, will start at running back.

“Marion’s a little rusty; he’s having a tough time finding some of the holes,” said David Richards, the Chargers’ starting right guard. “But if Marion sees a crease, he’s always had the ability to run up in there. And if anything gets in the way, he’s a blocker with the ball under his arms.

“He blocks for himself a lot of times. I know how he was playing last season, and I don’t expect anything different than that. He may hit the wrong hole a couple of times, but just as long as he doesn’t hit me in the back, everything will be fine.”

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