Former University of Maryland kicker Jess Atkinson and former West Virginia kicker Paul Woodside of Falls Church have been signed by the Washington Redskins to compete with veterans Mark Moseley and Steve Cox and three other free agents for the place-kicking job in minicamp next week, the Redskins announced yesterday.

Atkinson, who played for New England, the New York Giants and St. Louis last season, was the top performer in a recent kicking tryout at Redskin Park.

"It's a first step," Atkinson said. "I'm really looking forward to getting a chance to kick in minicamp."

The Redskins announced they have signed 21 other free agents: guard Kenneth Bentley of Southern Mississippi, tight end Glenn Bodner of William and Mary, safety Gordon Bunch of Arizona, running back Eric Cobble of Southwest Texas State, linebacker Anthony Copeland of Louisville, tackle David Fonoti of Arizona State, tight end Todd Frain of Nebraska, running back Dwight Garner of California, defensive end Alec Gibson of Illinois, defensive end John Guzik of Ohio, wide receiver Stanley Hairston of Elon, linebacker Dave Naimaster of Louisville and wide receiver Jeffrey Nelson of Texas A&M.

Also, defensive tackle Dale Pearson of Stephen F. Austin, cornerback Kevin Pointer of Washburn, defensive tackle Anthony Sagnella of Rutgers, tight end Marty Scott of Purdue, defensive tackle Roosevelt Smith of Southern Mississippi, guard Ron Tilton of Tulane, defensive tackle Darnell Wall of Virginia Union and cornerback Leroy Wardell of San Diego State.