Mike Clark, a defensive end signed by the Redskins Monday, was incorrectly identified in Tuesday's editions as playing college football at Florida State. He actually played at the University of Florida.

Redskin Coach Joe Gibbs, obviously concerned about criticism of Joe Theismann's performance against Dallas Sunday, strongly defended the veteran quarterback yesterday, maintaining Theismann "made some great plays and some great throws and held up very well despite all the pressure we put on him."

Gibbs said Theismann, who had four passes intercepted in the 26-10 Dallas victory, made "two bad reads that I know he feels bad about" but otherwise performed adequately.

"You have the quarterback throw that many times (48), it puts pressure on him," Gibbs said. "He'll make some bad decisions. When he does, you hope you get something other than an interception.

"As a fan or a coach, you have a tendency to dwell on those mistakes. But if you look at the films, you'd see he played a good game. He's a talented guy. We had him carry a big load because we put a lot on his shoulders, a lot of new stuff, and we asked him to do a lot. You can't blame him."

Theismann said yesterday he felt much better about his performance after reviewing the films.

"I didn't sleep too much last night thinking about how I played," he said, "but after looking today, maybe it's just going to take more time to learn the offense than I expected. When you are new like we all are, it doesn't click all the time.

"I was very, very upset Sunday, but we moved the ball consistently on a very good football team. We're going to get better each time out and I'm going to get better too. I'd really like two plays back, but I'm not giving up."

Rather than worry about Theismann, Gibbs and Defensive Coordinator Richie Petitbon yesterday seemed more concerned about the defense's injuries.

Linebacker Rich Milot, who aggravated a shoulder bruise against Dallas, is questionable for Sunday's game against the New York Giants at RFK Stadium. If he doesn't play, his spot will go to Mel Kaufman, the rookie free agent from Cal Poly.

With Wilbur Young on injured reserve for four weeks, the Redskins tried to shore up depth problems along the front four by signing end Mike Clark, a rookie free agent cut last week by Los Angeles. The Rams drafted him out of Florida State in the seventh round.

"Clark is quick, strong and very aggressive," said Petitbon. "He could help us right away. His strength right now is pass rush. We need to use him and Dexter (Manley) more. We've got to get more people involved."

Washington still has only two true defensive tackles, but Petitbon said end Karl Lorch would swing inside on occasion to rest starters Dave Butz and Perry Brooks.

"Our main worry is how the injuries are affecting our depth," Petitbon said. "We're nicked and if we lose any more people, we'd be in serious trouble."

Petitbon said he was confident the Redskins would improve their defense against the run despite surrendering 206 yards to Dallas, including 132 by Tony Dorsett.

"It wasn't as bad as it might have looked," Petitbon said. "We just have to play with more consistency. It wasn't a teamwide breakdown every time, but guys took different turns making mistakes.

"And Dorsett had a great game. We missed too many tackles, but he'll make you do that. That's as good as I've ever seen him play."

Although Petitbon said he wasn't that displeased with the pass rush (the Redskins had only one sack), Young's absence will be felt especially in that area. Young disappointed the coaching staff when he couldn't win a starting job, but he remains the best pass rusher on the team.

Gibbs also said:

The Giants game is "a must for us to win. We can't drop two (in a row) at home."

He didn't set out to attempt 49 passes Sunday and would prefer a better-balanced offense. "I felt like we had to be very loose and very aggressive and come at them and take some shots and hit a few of them. I kept thinking that we would hit a big play in a second. But no one in their right mind would say he'd want that kind of ratio (49 passes to 18 runs). I hope 48 yards (rushing) isn't a weekly occurence."

He is sure the team "will improve rapidly now . . . We can use this first game as a starting-off point.

"I'm not dwellling on the loss," he said. "You go out every week and do what you think is best. If it means putting the ball up, you put it up and talk about it later. I don't second-guess myself ever."

Three plays in particular bothered Gibbs. The first was a reverse to Art Monk that resulted in a loss. "Dallas blitzed on the play, and we didn't think they would," he said.

The second was Theismann's late interception at the goal-line on a pass to Monk. Gibbs said Monk was thrown off his route and made an adjustment that resulted "in their safety (Dennis Thurman) getting involved in the coverage. He normally wouldn't have been there."

The third was Theismann's interception on a rollout pass.

"Monk's man had slipped and he was wide open in the end zone, but Joe had people coming down on him and he got rid of the ball before he set his feet," Gibbs said. "It became a bad throw, but it also could have been a touchdown."

Other than Milot's injury, the Redskins came out of the opener without serious ailments . . . Lemar Parrish, who played half the game Sunday, should be ready for a full turn against the Giants . . . General Manager Bobby Beathard said the Redskins tried to work a draft-day deal for a seventh-round pick to select Clark. "He's a natural athlete who's going to be quite a player," Beathard said . . . The Redskins now have nine rookies.