Ted McKnight's name and number, 33, were pasted over those of Joe Cribbs, No. 20, yesterday on a locker at the Buffalo Bills' Rich Stadium.

McKnight, the former Kansas City Chiefs regular, had been signed to play running back and assigned Cribbs' space while the 1,700-yard man of 1981 (1,097 rushing, 603 receiving) regrouped at his mother's in Sulligent, Ala., after flying to Detroit, where Bills owner Ralph Wilson lives, but failing to end his holdout.

Coach Chuck Knox took part in a three-hour session of which the club cited "every effort to solve the dilemma without any apparent success."

Cribbs reportedly was offered the same package Wilson put forth by letter in August: $200,000 a year for three years, $250,000 the fourth year of a contract to be recast when the NFL labor dispute is over. Cribbs related: "They are talking about me . . . playing for $35,000 more than what I made last season, plus $25 a yard. I just can't do that . . . I was finally looking forward to ending this and was planning to be dressed and possibly play" tonight against Minnesota. "But life is full of disappointments."

Like, Cribbs said, Wilson telling him an earlier offer of a $250-per-yard bonus, not $25, was a typographical error . . .

As for Rob Carpenter, the ball carrier who brought the New York Giants a ground game in '81, boss George Young -- after an opening loss attributable to a running back's fumble -- says he would assure Carpenter of renegotiation later if he'd sign and play now. Why didn't you say so when we talked Sept. 2, asks the agent for Carpenter, who keeps talking USFL . . .

Talker Sunday on CBS-TV's Redskins at Tampa: Joe Greene, his debut, with Frank Glieber.