SMITHFIELD, R.I., AUG. 1 -- Years from now, when Brian Davis, Wally Kleine and Timmy Smith talk about their first professional football scrimmage, they'll probably smile and shake their heads.

If there's one time you want to start off on the right foot, make the big play to begin the new season, the rookie scrimmage is it. That's what Davis, Kleine and Smith, the Washington Redskins' top three draft choices, undoubtedly hoped. But that's not what happened today at Bryant College, where the New England Patriots defeated the Redskins, 27-24, before a crowd estimated at 7,500.

On the very first New England pass, Davis, a cornerback who was the team's top pick in the 1987 draft, was badly faked out by free agent wide receiver Larry Linne's inside move and was beaten for a 26-yard sideline reception.

"The very first play," Davis said, smiling faintly.

On Washington's second series, Kleine, the Redskins' second draft pick who has been moved from the defensive line to offensive tackle, was beaten for two sacks, one pass deflection and one quarterback hurry within 11 plays.

And, the first time the Redskins got inside the New England 10-yard line, Smith, a running back, bobbled a handoff and lost the ball, forcing the Washington offense to go back to the 50 and start over, according to scrimmage rules.

"I feel like there's a lot of work to be done," said Smith, who was selected in the fifth round.

New England's Tom Gibson, a rookie defensive end, was the player making Kleine's afternoon miserable.

"Kleine seemed kind of leery of fakes," said Gibson, the Patriots' fifth-round draft choice. "He'd sit back and just try to ride you. You can jam him and come in either way."

Later, the Patriots replaced Gibson with two other right defensive ends. There was a noticeable difference. There was not another sack from that side of the line.

"I came around later, but, geez, those first plays," Kleine said. "I screwed up. . . You live, you learn. I wish it had not happened, but, most important, I don't want it to happen again."

The Redskins were concerned about the sacks for two reasons: One was how it would affect Kleine's progress and confidence. The second was fear for quarterback Mark Rypien's health.

"At the start of it, Wally was having trouble getting adjusted," said assistant head coach/offense Joe Bugel. "It was technique more than anything. But he hung in there and finished up real strong. We're going to do that, we're going to let him play. I know the quarterback gets a little alarmed, but we're going to keep on doing this."

Between Gibson's sacks, linebacker Mel Black hit Rypien with a vicious shot moments after he had let go of a pass.

Redskins coaches were screaming for a late-hit call, but got none. They learned the reason they got no call was that there was no official to call it. There were only three officials at the scrimmage. Coaches Joe Gibbs and Raymond Berry asked that someone move to the backfield, and an official did.

Also, the Redskins were under the impression defenders would just tap the shoulder pads of the quarterback and not sack him, Rypien said.

After each offense had completed three series, New England led, 12-3. One of the Patriots' touchdowns was a 24-yard pass from quarterback Bub Bleier, former-Steeler Rocky's cousin, to wide receiver Brian Carey. On that play, Davis shared the coverage with a safety or linebacker, he said.

The Redskins' three points were significant.

Max Zendejas, who was put on injured reserve last December after a horrendous game at Denver, kicked a 43-yard field goal. It was his first field goal in competition since his 27-yard kick beat St. Louis, 20-17, last November and put the Redskins into the playoffs.

"I felt really confident," said Zendejas, who also kicked a 39-yarder. "I just had to get that one out of the way."

To that point, the Redskins looked sloppy. Adding to their woes was the fact that second-year running back Dwight Garner fumbled twice in the team's first series of 12 plays.

"I was hoping we would look sharper than what we did, particularly early," Gibbs said. "We looked bad."

The Redskins later scored on running back Kenny Fells' 18-yard reception and two touchdown catches by tight end Todd Frain, one 13 yards, the other 18 yards. No extra points were kicked today.

Frain, activated off injured reserve for three games last season, is considered a blocker.

Rypien completed 17 of 34 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. Fourth-string quarterback Ed Rubbert completed five of nine for 44 yards and no touchdowns. Garner was the team's leading rusher with 34 yards on eight carries.

"Today, we just didn't look sharp," Gibbs said. "We had dropped passes and guys fumbling and poor pass protection early."

Things don't get any easier for the rookies and young players. On Monday, the veterans will begin practicing with them. Then, next Saturday, they will scrimmage the New York Jets.

"You can't beat experience," Bugel said, speaking of Kleine. "Now he gets to go against Dexter Manley and {the Jets' Mark} Gastineau. He'll be baptized rather early. But the way to learn is to throw him to the wolves."