If Louis Carter ran just a step quicker yesterday at Redskin Park, it may have been because the former University of Maryland tailback no longer feels burdened by the status he experienced with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I was in a bad situation in Tampa," said Carter following yesterday's 2 1/2-hour preseason practice for rookies and free agents. "It didn't matter how fast I ran or how many balls I caught there, I always was going to be in a spot-play situation."

Carter, who gained 913 yards in three seasons with the Bucs - including a 521-yard team-leading production in 1976 - never was able to become a permanent fixture at tailback there, especially after Ricky Bell was picked out of Southern Cal in 1977.

"If someone is better . . . I can accept that fact," Carter said. "But, even then, if you want a winner, you have to go to your bench."

Carter was asked if the absence of traded running back Mike Thomas would improve his chances of becoming a regular in the Redskin backfield.

"It doesn't matter who's in camp, I still have confidence in my playing ability," Carter said. "Plus, here Coach Pardee listens to his assistants more than John McKay did in Tampa. They're the one who know best how a player is doing at practice."

The native of Laurel knew he was about to traded by Tampa Bay, but not to whom. When he found out it was to Washington, the first thing he did was call his mother.

"She told me that that was the best thing," he said. "I agreed. It's good to be back."

Yesterday's session was the first of three straight before the regular rookie camp opens June 15. The players worked out without equipment as per NFL regulation, except for helmets.

Of 19 players present, there were five wide receivers, four linebackers, four defensive backs, three running backs, two centers and a quarterback, Gary Valbuena, who played for the Southern California Sun of the World Football League and has twice been cut by the Miami Dolphins.

Valbuena had a busy day as the Redskins worked strictly on pass plays during seven-on-seven drills. Pardee termed the session a "back-to-basics day."

"If the new players are going to have a shot at making the team, they have to work on just knowing what to do when the regular camp opens. This is more of a study camp. We're not evaluating talent."

Nevertheless, Pardee admitted he was pleased with the pass-receiving ability of ninth-round draft choice Kris Haines of Notre Dame and Carter. CAPTION: Picture, Tailback Louis Carter takes a water break from yesterday's minicamp for the Redskins. By Gerald Martineau-The Washington Post