Trumpets did not announce Brad Dusek's entry onto the practice field today. The veteran linebacker just ran through some remedial passing and position drills without contact. Still, his first day back in pads after April back surgery was a major step up in his effort to be in the lineup for the season opener.

The team received another pleasant surprise today when linebacker Larry Kubin, the Redskins' sixth-round draft choice from Penn State, practiced in a light, 90-minute workout. It was Kubin's first time in pads since Sept. 30 of last season, when he injured a knee and missed the remainder of the Nittany Lion campaign.

"It looked a little crowded back there in the linebacker group, didn't it?" Dusek said.

"They'll both just work to tolerance," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We don't want to rush them, but, at the same time, we've got to get them going."

"Not bad," Dusek said when asked how he felt in his first practice. "I was a little slow. I didn't do a whole lot. The best thing about today was I didn't feel any pain.

"I still don't think I have the quickness I should have. I didn't expect to have much speed, but I also didn't have that burst I thought I would. I'm still not there yet. Even when you're not injured, it takes a week or two to get adjusted to the pads.

"Now, I've got to adjust to the defense and turning (while running). I'd like to play in the last exhibition game (Aug. 30, at New England), but it's a day-to-day thing. I ain't there yet, but I'm still climbing."

Many people consider Dusek's rehabilitation remarkable. After the operation, there were those who said he wouldn't play until midseason. But Dusek, one of the hardest-working Redskins, set a goal for himself to be fit for the Sept. 6 opener against Dallas in RFK Stadium.

"I was definitely surprised to see him back so soon," said Larry Peccatiello, the linebacker coach. "You know I'm happy to have him. But this a lot sooner than anticipated."

Peccatiello was happy to have both back, "Brad because of what he's done in the past and Larry because of the potential he showed in college."

Few people in the Redskin organization knew when Kubin would be ready to practice. He decided only recently to pass up a final year of college eligibility to play professionally. But he didn't figure prominently in the Redskins' plans this year because of the uncertainty surrounding the knee.

"Larry was a mystery coming in here," Peccatiello said. "We had some reports that said he was nearly ready to play, but other reports that said he had a way to go. So we're pleasantly surprised that those bad reports have turned out not to be too bad."

Kubin seemed very active, even in the usually slow-paced seven-on-seven passing drills. "I feel I'm almost there," he said afterward. "For a first day, I felt really good. It's been a whole year since I've had on pads. I was practicing for the fourth game of the season last year when I injured my knee. The biggest thing now is mental, learning the defenses and forgetting about the injury."

Gibbs can afford to relax a bit while Dusek and Kubin slowly work their way into game shape because the first-string linebacking trio -- Monte Coleman, Neal Olkewicz and Rich Milot -- played very well in the preseason victory over Kansas City Friday night. Coleman's interception for a touchdown was the only Redskin touchdown and Milot also had an interception.

Dusek, who watched from the sideline, said he was impressed with the young linebackers -- all third-year pros. But the Redskins would rather not have to face the computerized Dallas offense with three relatively inexperienced linebackers.

Dusek, in his eighth year out of Texas A&M, would lend experience to that position if he could be ready.