With one quarterback in the hospital, the prospective new substitute quarterback on vacation in Mexico and a costly new receiver shown the door, the Washington Redskins realized yesterday just how trying transition can be.

It would have been quite enough for the Redskins if their troubles had been confined to Joe Theismann's compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg and the team's unsuccessful attempts to call Babe Laufenberg, the No. 3 quarterback who was released in September, to be Jay Schroeder's backup.

They were the most important issues, of course, but they weren't the only ones on a rare day of November turmoil for a stable pro football team coming off its biggest victory of a strange season.

"It's like a changing of the guard," General Manager Bobby Beathard said yesterday.

In addition to monitoring positive reports from Arlington Hospital on the condition of Theismann, who was injured in the second quarter of the Redskins' come-from-behind, 23-21 victory over the New York Giants Monday night, the Redskins did the following:

*They waived wide receiver Malcolm Barnwell, who had caught only three passes for 28 yards and had disappointed the Redskins on and off the field.

To replace Barnwell, they might activate Mark McGrath from injured reserve, if he clears waivers, or re-sign rookie Joe Phillips, who was cut in September. They also might decide to go with only three wide receivers, Beathard said.

*For the first time in at least five seasons, they left completely open the question of who will start at running back.

Coach Joe Gibbs, apparently displeased with the fumbles and lack of production from John Riggins and George Rogers, said third-down back Keith Griffin deserves "strong consideration." They are evaluating changes on the offensive line in the wake of another injury -- two fractured bones in center Rick Donnalley's left hand.

Donnalley, a two-handed snapper, will not be placed on injured reserve, Beathard said, but he might move to guard. In that case, Jeff Bostic would move back to center.

Tackle Joe Jacoby, who has missed five games with a sprained right knee, is expected to return to practice today to see how he feels. Tackle Mark May likely will be sore with bruised ribs. And guard R.C. Thielemann (torn ligament in his right knee) is going to fly to Atlanta Thursday to see his doctor and discuss knee surgery, Beathard said. They apparently have decided rookie Raphel Cherry will continue to play strong safety ahead of veteran Tony Peters, who missed practice last week with a pulled groin and was not used Monday night. And, with their fingers crossed, they booked a tan and rested Laufenberg on a red-eye flight last night from Los Angeles, hoping he will get home in time to read his phone messages, dash to the airport and fly here for today's practice.

At a news conference at Redskin Park, Gibbs reiterated team doctor Charles Jackson's medical report on Theismann, who was listed in fair condition at Arlington Hospital, but added his own emphasis.

"I think he was upbeat," Gibbs said after talking with his quarterback by phone. "He definitely told me, 'You're not rid of me yet.' "

Theismann, who must undergo more surgery Thursday to close his wound and have his leg put in a cast after doctors make sure he has no infection, is expected to remain in the hospital for observation until at least Thanksgiving Day.

Gibbs focused on Schroeder, who completed 13 of 20 passes for 221 yards and the winning touchdown pass to Clint Didier with 8:21 to play in the game.

"The way Jay played certainly was an outstanding performance," Gibbs said. "We'll probably have time now to coach him and really foul him up."

Gibbs was especially pleased with Schroeder's first pass, a 44-yarder to Art Monk on third and 13.

"I think everybody was kind of waiting to see what's going to happen," he said. "This young guy's in there and is he going to respond or are we going to take the gas pipe? When I saw Art go out of sight with that ball in his hands, I think everybody on the sideline jumped. They all went right from their seats standing almost out on the field."

But, Gibbs added a caution: "It was one night, one great night. Now we have to go on and see if Jay will consistently play that way."

Gibbs compared his emotions, and those of his team Monday night, to the 1982 Super Bowl victory in Pasadena. "That one will always be special, of course," he said of the Super Bowl. "But this one took every bit out of me."

Schroeder was one of several Redskins who was asked about the chances of Joe Theismann's return next spring at age 36. "I know Joe," Schroeder said. "Joe is gonna be back. You can mark that. He's not gonna give up."

In the meantime, the Redskins had no trouble deciding who their new No. 2 quarterback will be. As Beathard said, "We didn't have a conviction on any veteran who is out there. We had a conviction on Babe."

Laufenberg was released by the Redskins on the final roster cut-down Sept. 2.

The Redskins always have liked Laufenberg, who rallied them to a last-second preseason victory over New England in August, and lamented that they did not have space to keep him on a 45-man roster.

Gibbs said the Redskins' second onside kick actually was supposed to be a high "power kick" to the Giants blockers at the New York 25. But kicker Steve Cox didn't hit it quite right and it rolled only to the New York 47. That's where the Redskins' Greg Williams landed on it. Five plays later, the Redskins scored the winning touchdown.

Other injuries: tight end Don Warren has a hip pointer and left tackle Russ Grimm a sprained back. Both are expected to play Sunday.

The Redskins have printed playoff tickets ranging from $15 to $30 for first-round or wild-card games and $20 to $35 for the conference championship. Season-ticket owners have been given the right to buy as many tickets for the playoffs as they purchased for the regular season.