The St. Louis Cardinals cut beleaguered kicker Neil O'Donoghue yesterday and signed rookie Jess Atkinson, the onetime record setter for the University of Maryland who was just cut by the New York Giants.

O'Donoghue missed three field goals in Sunday's 20-10 loss to Houston. He made only two of his last seven attempts.

Also, his missed 50-yarder as time expired in the 1984 season finale against the Washington Redskins cost the Cardinals the NFC East championship and left them out of the playoffs.

Atkinson, a 5-foot-9, 165-pounder, was signed by the Giants in the second week of this season after three-year veteran kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh suffered a hamstring injury. After Atkinson missed two of two against New Orleans Sunday, the Giants put him on waivers . . .

Green Bay Packers assistant Virgil Knight threw a soft drink can at linebacker Mike Douglass and the two of them scuffled in the team's locker room following Sunday's 37-10 loss to the Colts in Indianapolis, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported.

The newspaper quoted unidentified players as saying the incident began when Douglass took exception to criticism directed at him by Coach Forrest Gregg in remarks to the team. "He (Douglass) was just defending his play," one player was quoted as saying.