He is the most restricted player on the field. He can't use his hands, he can't move once he is set in his stance and the only time he gets to touch the ball is when someone fumbles it.

He is the offensive lineman.

When a team can't run the football or pass it, the handiest people to blame are the offensive linemen.

They become used to it early in their careers.

"It comes with playing the position," said Redskin tackle Fred Dean. "The line gets blamed if things don't go well, but seldom gets the credit when everything is working right."

Well, the Redskins are struggling on offense and their line has taken its lumps. But it is trying to hold together and considering the rash of injuries that have hit it, it is perhaps unfair to blame the line for the team's failure to move the ball or score points.

The team's best offensive lineman, tackle George Starke, has missed the last two games and is out indefinitely with a bad knee.The other tackle, Terry Hermeling, has a bad knee, too, but he is well enough to play. Center Bob Kuziel and guard Ron Saul are battered and bruised.

That leaves only guard Jeff Williams and Dean healthy, and Dean, normally a guard, is playing out of position, although he's holding his own and could eventually become one of the top men on the line.

Dean has already played both guard positions and both tackle spots this season and it could be that his versatility is his own worst enemy.

"We've been very pleased with Fred." Coach Jack Pardee said yesterday. "He's tough, has good speed and good strength. The problem is that we can't leave him at one spot long enough for him to master it. If we could just stick him at one position and let him learn it, he could really be a fine player."

Permanence at a position is a foreign concept to Dean, however. He started in junior league as a quarterback and then became a running back, a tight end, and finally, an interior lineman.

The quarterbacks, running backs and receivers grab the glory, but Dean said it is just as big a thrill to finish a game and know that the man you played head up was never a factor.

Unfortunately for the Redskins and for Dean, that wasn't the case Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks. Rookie Jacob Green was all over the field and one eluded Dean long enough to sack Joe Theismann.

"I was hurting inside when Green sacked Joe, because I had promised him that I wouldn't let anyone get him the whole game." Dean said. "After that sack, I told Green he would never get back there again, and he didn't."

Dean attributes the Redskin woes to breakdowns by different people at different times.

"We'll run six or seven good plays and then someone will make a mistake," he said. "To correct that, you just have to keep your head in the game. That's the hardest thing for an offensive lineman to do sometimes because he is so caught up in whipping his man. The defense will run a lot of stunts to try and confuse you and that's where inexperience will get you."