Curley Culp said yesterday the only difference he had with the Redskins was where he would play: left or right defensive tackle. That was enough to keep him from signing with Washington after the Houston Oilers put him on waivers Friday.

The Redskins, who have gotten inconsistent play from their defensive right tackle position, claimed Culp, a 6-foot-1, 265-pound 13-year veteran, with the hope of finding the answer. But after Culp and his agent, Jerry Argovitz, met with Redskin General Manager Bobby Beathard Saturday, Culp left without signing.

"I was very excited that the Redskins picked me up," Culp said from his home in Houston. "But my experience is at nose guard and left tackle. Since the Redskins don't play a three-man front, the only position I could play is left tackle. Right tackle is a difficult position to adjust to after 13 years at left tackle and nose guard."

Culp said he appreciated that the average fan might not see the difference in positions. He also can understand how some people don't comprehend sacrificing a contract that is in excess of $100,000 per year.

"The techniques are entirely different," he explained. "The stance is different. Adjustments would have to be made. I'm sure I could adjust, but it would be a lot different if I had four or five weeks in training camp.

"I wanted to come to Washington and play all-pro football, to play to the best of my ability," Culp said. "To do that I would have to play the positions at which I would be comfortable."

Argovitz said he asked the Redskins to compensate Culp with more money or with housing in the Washington area if he switched positions, but was turned down.

"We were appreciative of the Redskins for recognizing Curley's talents. We're not knocking them," Argovitz said. "Curley wants to play badly. But it's a little late in the season for him to pAy a new position."

Culp became a free agent for the second time yesterday. He said he will call other teams. "I expect to be working again by the end of the year," he said.