He is replacing a five-time Pro Bowl selection who once was considered among the premier free safeties in pro football.

The credentials, please, for this new Redskin phenom, talented enough to put Jake Scott on the waiver list.

"Well," Mark Murphy said, "I haven't been in for any more than five plays during the regular season at free safety."

That's it. No interceptions, just one blocked punt, no all-star nomination during Murphy's two seasons with the club. Yet the Redskins feel the promotion of Murphy to Scott's old spot will strengthen an already steady secondary, the outstanding unit on the team.

"He'll improve our speed at that position," said Bobby Beathard, the Redskin general manager. "And he's always in the right position at the right time. He's an aggressive guy and he'll probably improve our tackling there, too."

That's a major difference between Scott and Murphy.

Scott loved to gamble, to free-lance, to try for the sensational. When such tactics worked, it was wonderful. When it didn't, the result often was a sizeable gain for the opposition.

Murphy plays the percentages better. An intelligent athlete, he knows the coverages, knows where he should be positioned in each and he follows his assignments.

"I spent my two years here studying Jake and Kenny (Houston)," Murphy said. "I noticed a lot, but especially how they didn't waste energy.

"That's what I'm trying to do now. I am out to eliminate the unnecessary in what I do and just concentrate on the most efficient. It's up to me to learn the most I can about every defense and every coverage and then execute it."

Yet film study doesn't replace actual game experience.

"Sure, it's a gamble," said Secondary Coach Richie Petitbon, but that's what we are being paid for. If you make too many bad gambles, you start working for another team.

"But I feel good about this one. Murphy has got good size (6-4, 210 pounds), he's smart, he hits people and he is always getting better. It may sound foolish to get high on someone with no experience, but I am.

"What he needs now is to play. He'll have to play and play in every scrimmage and preseason game. We are trying to make up for a few years experience in six weeks, but by halfway through the season, he is going to be quite a player."

Scott finished his career weighing about 180 pounds. He had two sore shoulders and his lack of speed hurt him when he had to go against fleet receivers. He had to rely on guile and instinct, yet he still had a decent season.

All Murphy can do now is hope that extra dedication can replace lost playing time. Beathard said Murphy may be the best-conditioned player on the team - "He's always working out" - and he already has turned in the fastest 1 1/2-mile time in camp.

To demonstrate what the club thinks of him, there really is no one in camp pushing him for the spot. He will be the starting free safety, unless he does something to blow the opportunity.

"I would have liked more playing time," he said, "but I can't be that concerned about it except get as much out of camp as I can."

But why should he be worried about this year after what he already has managed to survive during two seasons of play mainly with special teams and nickel defense?

Consider these odds. He was a rookie free agent out of Colgate, a football nonpower, on a pro team whose coach, George Allen, was a legendary rookie hater. Allen always said he picked up Murphy in the 13th round of a 12-round draft.

He didn't look the part of a football player and still doesn't. His legs are too skinny, his feet are too big and his body is not a mass of muscles - nor does he behave like the boorish football stereotype. Instead, he arrived at his first training camp in a beat-up car and now he drives a jeep.

The Redskins stashed him in a hotel near Redskin Park on the two days of the draft so no team could negotiate with him. Then he came to that first camp and impressed everyone with his hitting and his enthusiasm.

"I blocked a punt that season against Dallas," he said. "That's how I knew that I belonged in this league, that I could play with these guys.

"That first year. I just wanted to stick. I had never dreamed of playing pro football until late in my junior year at Colgate. By the time I came to camp, I just wanted to give it a try and see if I could perform.

"Last year, I thought I should have been given more of a chance to play. It was like I was a rookie all over again. I had to prove to a new coaching staff that I could do it despite being from Colgate.

"Now having a chance to start makes me think the work has all been worthwhile. When you are in a spot like I am, you have to push yourself. You can't let up.

"Sure, I wish I had come in here as a No. 1 pick, but maybe the other veterans respect you more because they know that you've worked your way up the hard way."

For a Colgate grad to even stick for a game on a pro team is news. Only Mark van Eeghen and Marv Hubbard of the Raiders, both running backs, have lasted at this level since World War II. But Murphy is the first defensive player from the school to advance.

"The school is so small that it doesn't take much to become a hero up there," he said. "They are just happy that I'm here."

This already has been a year to remember for Murphy. He was married June 23 to his college sweetheart, now a congressional aide, and he signed a new contract. For one year.

"Why not?" he said. "This could be a pivotal season for me. If I get a chance to play and do well, I'll be able to put myself into a better bargaining position."

But Murphy, always the deliberate thinker, added an option year to the pact, "just in case I get hurt. I had to protect myself there, too."

NOTES: Veteran linebacker Ken Geddes collapsed during lunch from heat prostration. He was taken to nearby Carlisle Hospital but returned to the afternoon workout, although he did not practice . . . "He was trying to lose weight and work in this heat and humidity," Coach Jack Pardee said. "That's not a good combination" . . . Pardee said offensive tackle George Starke, coming off a knee injury, "is maybe in the best shape of his career. He looks awfully good." . . . There are so many veterans in camp that only about 23 are left to report this weekend. "Wonder how some of those guys got out of coming here?" grumbled one tired vet . . . Turkey Jones, the defensive end acquired from the Cleveland Browns, checked into camp and will work out Tuesday . . . Pardee was gushing about the enthusiasm and condition of his players during this first heavy day of practicing. He had special praise for the three quarter-backs and for young linebackers Monte Coleman, Neal Olkewicz and Rich Milot . . . Redskin wide receivers will stand up at the line of scrimmage this year instead of getting into a three-point stance. "We had a lot of illegal procedure calls last year because we could't hear audibles," Pardee said, "but if it doesn't work, they'll go backdown again." CAPTION: Picture, Mark Murphy jumps through maze of ropes in agility drill at Redskins training camp. By Richard Darcey - The Washington Post