Are the Hogs passe?

Are they "out" or are they "in"?

Will they dance in top hats and tails for the television cameras again?

Or will they continue to be swallowed like December's cold lunch, if not by the Big Bad Bears, then somebody else?

Today, and every day in this training camp, the Washington Redskins' offensive line -- famous or infamous -- works on its answer.

"The Hogs have lost some of their luster," said center Rick Donnalley, a relatively new initiate, and a very important one. "Now we're trying to get that back."

Seven sacks of your quarterback in 60 minutes will do that to you. So will a starting guard's snapped ankle. Chicago's defense was responsible for both in the Redskins' 23-19 playoff loss last season.

Wild new defensive strategies and severe injuries, in combination, hurt the Hogs -- and their image -- last season.

"So now we're mortals," said right tackle Mark May, at 25 the youngest of the Hogs. "For us, success came a lot quicker than most of us thought, but I think we earned it. Now, we'll have to keep it."

You'll find Hogs scattered everywhere at Dickinson College's Biddle Field.

Left guard Russ Grimm is having the training camp of his life, according to the Boss Hog, a.k.a. Joe Bugel, the assistant head coach-offense.

Next to him is tackle Joe Jacoby. As a pair of 26-year-olds, playing golf for six-packs or football for keeps, they are impressive.

"The left side of our line is awesome," said Bugel.

Donnalley is in the center, where Jeff Bostic usually is. Bostic stands on another field, working alone with assistant trainer Keoki Kamau and a blocking sled.

Today, for the first time since Oct. 21, 1984, Bostic is wearing his clean white No. 53 jersey, stuffed with full pads underneath.

It is his first official day of practice, albeit a very light one, since he suffered extensive ligament damage in his right knee in a game at St. Louis and underwent reconstructive surgery.

"I feel tired," Bostic said after practice, his knee bulging from the ice taped around it.

"I have to get used to having pads on again."

Bostic said last spring that he may not be ready until October. The Redskins have set no timetable. "The guys in there now will have to be iron men for a while," he says.

Guard Ken Huff and May fill in the right side of the line. If Huff, 32 and graying, had not broken his ankle in the Chicago game, things might have been different, the Hogs say.

"The Chicago game? Wait a minute. All the Hogs weren't there," says Head Hog George Starke, who himself was out with a knee injury.

"All of them have to play. Missing even one guy is a tremendous loss."

And what of Starke, now 37 and considered the backup swing tackle? He is standing behind the line in a baseball cap, watching.

"I've got a boo-boo on my knee," he says. He has a torn bursa (sac) in his right leg and this morning missed his first practice, although the injury is not considered serious.

"It's the 'Riggo Rule,' " Starke says. "Since he's (John Riggins) not here, I took it over.

"Since I've been in the league 10 or more years, in theory I can go through one-a-days (only one practice instead of the usual two)."

Bugel gave his acquiescence. "The two-a-days are constant poundings. We know all we need to know about George Starke."

Except for one thing. "Pass pro," is the way the Boss Hog puts it.

"Coming into training camp, we wanted to restructure our pass protection," he said, working on one-on-one, no-help blocking drills designed to confront a five-man defensive line.

"It was kind of embarrassing to us," Bugel says of the Chicago game. "It was uncharacteristic of us to give up so many sacks."

In 1984, the Hogs saw their quarterback fall in enemy hands 48 times for 341 lost yards. In 1983, it happened 35 times for 251 yards. They blame the injuries that made May, for one, dizzy at Dallas near the end of the season when he played every position on the line but center. They also blame the defenses.

"If you're talking about the Hogs of old, remember, these aren't the same defenses of old," May said. "The vanilla defenses, the 3-4 and 4-3, they are gone, at least against us."

The blitzes and odd formations have added 35 pages to the Hog playbook, May said. "A couple of years ago, it was 60 pages long. Now, it's 95."

Bugel said most likely eight offensive linemen will make the 45-man roster. The starters plus Bostic and Starke would probably, at this stage, make seven, not counting injured reserve possibilities. Veteran tackle Morris Towns is listed behind Jacoby on the depth chart.

Prospective baby Hogs abound: rookie guard Raleigh McKenzie, rookie center Mike Wooten, and tackles Mike McClearn of the U.S. Football League and Kelly Thomas, recently traded from Tampa Bay.

As May says, "The faces may be different, but the name is still the same."

The week before training camp opened, the Hogs went out on the town. Six of them went, along with dates or wives. "Or both," May said, laughing.

"There was no Riggo, no Doc (Rick Walker). Everyone else went," May said. They wore tuxedos. They rented limos. The agenda: dinner at Mel Krupin's, dancing, Georgetown bars . . .

"People came up to us, remembered us," May said. "It was nice.

"But I guess we weren't too hard to notice."