No one could answer him.
"No more than 16," he said. "We used to work hundreds of patterns in a week. But we have worked together so long that it doesn't hurt our timing not to practice as much, and I have reached the point where even if Johnny wanted to throw more I would be too tired to run more patterns."
There are no outward indications of the malady that affects Unitas' arm. He sat in front of his locker after the Eagle game, his face as impassive as ever. He is not an emotional man and he answered the questions put to him in a low, almost toneless voice.
"The arm has hurt a long time," he said, leaning over to unlace his high-top shoes. "I don't remember when it started, because it was a gradual thing. There's a tendon torn loose in there and it's a constant pain, even when I'm not working out. I guess they could operate, but I don't know how the operation would turn out. It hasn't hurt any worse during the last couple of years, so I'd rather not take a chance with the operation. I can stand the pain."
He has cut down sharply on the amount of throwing he does between games and played only sporadically during the preseason schedule, saving the arm. When he opened the league season against Atlanta a week ago, his arm felt well enough for him to set a personal record with 22 completions in 32 throws for 401 yards. Against Philadelphia he completed 21 of 34 for 267 yards.
"It hurts now," he said, pinching the offending elbow. His arms are not particularly muscular; the elbow is bony and totally unremarkable, with no evident swelling. "I only throw a couple of days a week now, just enough to keep sharp. But it seems to be enough. At least I can throw hard. Last year I couldn't."
Jimmy Orr, who wandered disconsolately onto the field before the game with his left arm in a sling from a dislocated shoulder, watched Unitas arch effortless long passes downfield a few times and shook his head.
"I got loose on a fly deep downfield in one of the exhibition games," Orr-said. "I had maybe a step on the guy covering me and I remember wondering if Johnny could reach me. I looked over my shoulder, and the ball was hanging up there like a peach on a tree."
It came as somewhat of a surprise to some Baltimore writers that Unitas went to Richardson as often as he did. They had come to believe that he had no faith in Richardson, who has had little playing time behind Orr.
"That came about because of the first game against Green Bay last year," Don Shula, the personable young coach of the Colts, said. "Johnny hit him with the first pass in that game and then he dropped one, and Johnny didn't throw much to him anymore. But Johnny is like all good quarterbacks. He doesn't care who he throws to. He'll do anything to win."