The Redskins' cutting yesterday of such veterans as wide receiver Terry Metcalf, tight end Rich Caster and defensive end Dallas Hickman left them with their youngest group of players -- and most draft choices -- since George Allen coached here.

Eleven men who never have played in the National Football League made the 49-man squad. Also on it are 18 draft choices, 25 players with less than three years pro experience and seven with less than five. The Redskins began last season with only 11 drafted players, by far the lowest in the league.

But even in the midst of this youth movement, receiver Carl Powell, their No. 3 draft pick from Jackson State and one of their most valued rookies, was waived, as expected.

"We blew it, it's that simple," General Manager Bobby Beathard said of Powell, who was drafted for his speed but showed little this summer. "But knowing what we knew at the time of the draft, we would probably still do it again. Carl has the ability, but you are looking at a prospect who just didn't have the motivation to do what you have to do in order to make it in this league. He never knew what it took."

Other players waived were defensive ends Mike Clark and John Lee, receiver Chy Davidson, cornerback LeCharls McDaniel and linebackers Lemont Jeffers and Quentin Lowry. Center Ron Saul, whose knee is hurting, was placed on preseason injured reserve and will have to clear waivers before being activated.

Joe Washington was included on the 45-man active roster, but he will be switched to inseason injured reserve today, according to Coach Joe Gibbs. Washington then will have to miss at least four games before he can play again. His place on the roster most likely will be filled by one of the young players cut yesterday.

Four players were put on the new taxi squad: kicker Dan Miller, running back Nick Giaquinto, quarterback Bob Holly and safety Greg Williams. Giaquinto, who has a bad ankle, probably won't play in the season opener Sunday at Philadelphia, Gibbs said.

The Redskins have until 4 p.m. Saturday to move players from the taxi squad onto the active roster. Williams, a free agent rookie from Mississippi State who was the most surprising player in camp, most likely will be switched, since he is a standout special teams player.

"I'm proud of our young guys," Gibbs said. "But we don't care how old or young a guy is. We go for the best player. There has to be competition. If the young player wins it, you just have to go that way."

It was not an easy weekend for Gibbs, who was torn by his decision to release Metcalf, who will be 31 later this month. The two men, who met when Gibbs was an assistant at St. Louis and Metcalf was the Cardinals' star player, are good friends.

"I respect Terry so much," Gibbs said. "It was very hard. If he hadn't had that offseason injury (concussion), it would have been a different result for him here. The injury just slowed him up. He was disappointed, but I think he felt this would be our decision."

Caster, 33, also fell victim to the youth movement. He showed in the preseason that he still can catch but his blocking was not good. And the Redskins have two new, promising players at that spot: rookie Mike Williams (No. 5, Alabama A&M) and Clint Didier (1981, No. 12, Portland State). Williams probably will replace Rick Walker as the second tight end, although Walker did survive the cut.

The Redskins are the only team in the league to keep two place-kickers, although Miller, the No. 11 choice from the University of Miami, said he has been told "I could go any week in which they have to make some roster moves because of injury. I'm surprised I'm here, I told my wife to expect me home. But I'm glad they think enough of me to keep me." Veteran Mark Moseley will do the place-kicking against Philadelphia.

Said Gibbs: "We'll just see what happens down the road (with the kickers). You hate to keep a guy who will probably be inactive all season instead of someone who you can put in there to play a few downs."

Six 1982 draft picks made the final roster: cornerback Vernon Dean (No. 2, San Diego State), defensive end Todd Liebenstein (No. 4, Nevada-Las Vegas), Williams, Miller, quarterback Bob Holly (No. 11, Princeton) and tackle Don Laster (No. 12, Tennessee State). Besides Williams, the Redskins also kept another free agent rookie, punter Jeff Hayes, of whom Gibbs said: "It's a real shock to find someone that good as a free agent."

Didier, Charlie Brown (No. 8, South Carolina State) and linebacker Larry Kubin (No. 6, Penn State) all were 1981 choices who were on injured reserve all last year. Brown will start at wide receiver.

Before Gibbs took over last season, the Redskins usually had fewer than five draft choices on the roster. He added nine rookies, including five draft picks, last year and this season has eight more first-year players.

But Powell's failure left Beathard with mixed emotions. "You just hate to have a third-round choice not make it," he said. The Redskins knew Powell was inexperienced after playing from a wishbone offense in college, but they never expected he would develop so slowly.

Powell attributed his problems to lack of conditioning before camp -- "I never knew I would have to do so much running" -- and hesitancy caused by a fear of making mistakes. "I just never ran full out," he said.

Gibbs said Clarence Harmon, who came close to being cut, will assume Giaquinto's pass catching duties against Philadelphia . . . "It will be a chance for Clarence to get in there and perform for us," Gibbs said . . . Defensive tackle Darryl Grant was playing center during part of practice yesterday, a safety measure in case Jeff Bostic (elbow) and Russ Grimm (knee) get hurt during games.