It was a preliminary test at best, but the Washington Federals revealed a number of weaknesses and a few strengths in its one and only preseason game, a 20-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Bandits played in the Gator Bowl Saturday night.

The coaches were not happy with the pass protection, the receivers, punters, and defensive backs.

The progress of the defensive line and the running backs, especially Craig James, who gained 94 yards on 11 carries, was more encouraging.

The Federals trimmed the roster to 56 today but delayed announcement of the players released in order to have time to meet with those players. Today was a day off for the team.

One measure the Federals may take to improve the passing game is to pursue Joe Walters, a receiver who led the Canadian Football League last season with 101 catches for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The five-year CFL veteran played at Clemson and is, therefore, available for negotiations with the Federals when he becomes a free agent on March 1.

"No one has really emerged yet among the receivers," said Jauch. "We haven't talked yet with Walters but we'd like to have a guy like him, no doubt about it."

The veteran defensive line, which includes 39-year-old Coy Bacon and 35-year-old Ron Estay, proved itself strong against both the pass and the run. But the offensive line, dominated by young players, had a difficult time with the Bandits.

Dave Pacella, a rookie from Maryland and probably the most talented player on the offensive line, is just getting adjusted to the tackle position again after an unsuccessful stint as center.

No player in the starting offensive line has more than three years of pro experience. Against the Bandits, the line seemed unable to protect quarterbacks Mike Hohensee, Mike Nott and Kim McQuilken with any consistency.

Punters Steve Hoffman and Mike Forslund, who is also a quarterback, performed erratically, with Hoffman averaging 39 yards and Forslund averaging 37.3 yards. More important, their kicks were low. The Federals may consider using James as a punter. He averaged 44.9 yards per kick with Southern Methodist last year.

"I think what we got most out of this scrimmage is a sense of the competition in this league," said Jauch.

If that is the case, the competition may prove uneven, relying on a few outstanding players to carry lesser performers.

Just as James appeared like a Cadillac in a Chevy lot Saturday night for the Federals, the Bandits' passing combination of quarterback John Reaves and former Redskin receiver Danny Buggs outclassed the Washington secondary. Buggs caught six passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.

"We have a long regular season to play," said Jauch. "We're not going to know a whole lot until then."