Maryland begins spring football practice Tuesday with interest focused on two fronts: the offensive line and the injured left knee of tailback Steve Atkins.

Other than the offensive line:

Tight end: Bob Raba's graduation lop reserve graduated, almost all the Terrapins are back from the 1976 team that posted a 11-0 regular season but lost to Houston in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day.

Maryland's defense, which recorded shutouts in the final three regular season games, returns 18 of its top 22 players.

In the biggest personnel change, Ernie Salley has been moved from guard to tackle in an effort to put all Maryland's best athletes on the field at the same time and to replace senior tackles to Joe Campbell and Ralph Fisher.

Only other graduating starters on defense were linebacker Miker Miller and defensive back Ken Roy.

Coach Jerry Claiborne hopes to obtain some measure of the quality on his offensive line in a hurry because the toughest part of the schedule is early.

The Terps open at Clemson in an Atlantic Coast Conference game and then take on West Virginia and Penn State.

Maryland's losses in the offensive line were not limited to graduation. Two important reserves, center Pat Cornelius and guard Bobby Bell, were dismissed from the squad recently for disciplinary reasons. Kervin Wyatt, switched to offense last season in an emergency move, asked to be returned to linebacker and was accomodated.

Going into the practices that culminate in the annual Red-White game April 22, this is the outlook on the offensive line:

Tight end: Bob Raba's graduation leaves Eric Sievers, Scott Murphy and John Burgess as candidates. Sievers was Raba's backup last season following Murphy's knee injury. Sievers will be a sophomore, Murphy a junior.

Tackles: Steve Kalodner, a reserve last season, appears to have the best shot on the weak side. Larry Stewart; 6 foot-8, 280-pound sophomore-to-be, and Pat Ulam will fight it out on the strong side.

Guards: Mike Yeates, who missed part of the 1976 season with a knee injury, is back on the strong side; Paul Glamp, also injured last season, Glenn Nick and Richard Chamberlain all will be tried at quick guard.

Center: Mike Simon, a reserve tackle last season but a center as a freshman, starts spring drills. Three-year starter Eugene Ochap graduated and Cornelius was dismissed.

Otherwise Maryland's offense is practically set, two deep at every position, even if Atkin's knee does not respond.

The Terps have Mark Manges and Larry Dick at quarterback, Preacher Maddox and George Scott at tailback, Steve Kesiol and Mickey Dudish at fullback, Dean Richards and Chuch White at wingback and Vince Kinney and redshirt Gary Ellis at split end.

The returning defenders include end Keith Calta and halfback Doug Harbert, starters who missed the Cotton Bowl with knee injuries.

Except at tackle (sophomore Charlie Johnson moves up two deep at every position (starters listed first):

Ends - Douglas, Chip Garber, Calta, Jims Shaffer, Joe Muffker; guards - Ted Klaube, Larry Seder, Bruce Palmer, Marlin Van Horn; tackles - Johson, Salley, Ken Watson; linebackers - Brad Carr, Neil Olkewicz, Stu O'Dell, Bill Fotta, Wyatt; halfback - Lloyd Burruss, Harbert, Chris Ward; safety - Jonathan Claiborne, John Stanford.

Coach Claiborne also will be looking for better consistency in his kicking game. Mike Sochko, a pre-season All-America a year ago, lost his place-kicking duties to Ed Loncar in mid-season and only punted well after that.

The coaching staff also has undergone changes as Claiborne adjusted to the NCAA limit of eight fulltime assistant coaches. It meant paring the staff by two.

Joe Krivak, receivers coach, moved to the Naval Academy, and Gothard Lane, defensive end coach, became assistant to the athletic director.

Lane's duties include supervision of all recruiting and coordinating public speaking engagements by athletic department personnel. Lane replaces Thom Park, who moved to the University of Connecticut to again become an on-the-field assistant.

Claiborne said quarterback coach Jerry Eisaman will handle the wide receivers; junior varsity and scout-team assistant Dick Redding will coach the tight ends and that Claiborne personally will work with the defensive ends in spring drills.

Elsewhere, Navy and Virginia continue drills without a starting quarterback.

Navy's Bob Leszczynski is missing spring practice in order to play second base on the Mids' baseball team. But coach George Welsh has 15 returning starters. His biggest problem is filling the middle-guard slot left vacant by All-American Jeff Sapp. Welsh is trying a number of players there.

At Virginia, coach Dick Bestwick has basically decided that he will start a freshman at quarterback in place of Andy Hitt, who graduates. Bestwick, whose spring game is scheduled April 2, signed four freshmen quarterbacks. But the one he coveted most, Bob Milkovich of Woodward High, signed at Maryland.

Howard University, with 30 returnees and a good group of freshmen, has been practicing for two weeks.