Ex-Maryland kicker Jess Atkinson, the New York Giants' leading scorer, was placed on NFL waivers yesterday as cornerback Mark Haynes, who ended a holdout two weeks ago, was activated.

Atkinson signed with the Giants six weeks ago, when hamstring trouble forced Ali Haji-Sheikh to injured reserve. The rookie had done well on field goals until missing two of two (39 and 42 yards) Sunday in the 21-13 victory at New Orleans.

All told, Atkinson made 10 of 15 three-point tries, including seven straight in the three games before New Orleans. He missed one of 15 extra points -- the miss coming in a one-point loss to the Dallas Cowboys. And Coach Bill Parcells had been unhappy with Atkinson's frequently short kickoffs.

Haji-Sheikh, on standby for two weeks, at last report still awaited activation . . .

Saints Coach Bum Phillips, meanwhile, had a bad case of laryngitis after he "got soaking wet" helping a motorist at the mercy of Hurricane Juan.

Phillips said that when he got to his home west of the city after the Giants game, he found roads in and out of the development flooded.

"I could get in with my truck, but a guy was stalled, and I got out to help him get started," Phillips said. "It wound up, he couldn't get in and he couldn't get out, so he wound up staying the night." . . .

Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka, on being listed (in Sports Illustrated) as one of three NFL coaches -- with Dallas' Tom Landry and Miami's Don Shula -- for whom players would least like to play:

"Any guy who doesn't want to play for Shula or Landry is a lazy bum. Me I could understand . . . If they want a pat . . . every time they do something wrong, this isn't the place."