CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 20 -- Chris Dressel came to the Washington Redskins a couple months ago -- traded from the Houston Oilers for a draft choice to be named later. Glenn Dennison came to the Redskins today, traded from the New England Patriots for a similar price. They come with bulging portfolios: Dressel was John Elway's tight end in college; Dennison was Jim Kelly's and Bernie Kosar's.

If things go right for them, they will be the understudies to Don Warren and Clint Didier at the Redskins' tight end positions this fall. If things don't go right, well, it won't be the first time that has happened to either of them.

"I'm real happy just to get a new beginning," Dressel, a four-year NFL veteran from Stanford, said today. "I really felt I was stuck in neutral in Houston. My career was going nowhere. I was getting older. I wasn't producing whatsoever. I needed to find some people to show what I could do, so maybe they could believe in me a little bit."

Welcome to Dickinson College, the halfway house for promising tight ends looking for a second chance. Because of the knee injury suffered by Anthony Jones at the end of last season, the Redskins are looking for a backup for Warren at the blocking tight end spot. Because of the worsening condition of Terry Orr's bruised left shoulder, the Redskins were beginning to feel uneasy about the reserve position behind Didier, the H-back (man in motion).

There are other, younger players fighting for both positions. But those players know the men with experience are Dressel and, to a lesser degree, Dennison, a former New York Jet who joined the Patriots as a free agent last November. He is scheduled to arrive here tonight.

"In my case, I've started," Dressel said. "They know I've been through all the game situations. It's got to help."

Dennison, 6 feet 3 and 225 pounds, was a top receiver at the University of Miami who missed all of the Jets' 1985 season with a back injury and all of 1986 after being released. Today, he became a member of the Redskins because of a "tenuous situation at H-back," said Coach Joe Gibbs.

Orr has missed practice all week after injuring his shoulder in the first preseason game last Friday night, and will be out "for a while," said tight ends coach Rennie Simmons.

This afternoon, rookie H-back Alfred Jenkins pulled a muscle in his hip in practice, adding to the problems, Gibbs said.

As for other injuries, tackle Mark May did not practice today because of a sprained left shoulder and is not likely to play against Green Bay Saturday at 2 p.m. at Madison, Wis. Strong safety Ken Coffey (pulled hip flexor) and running back Kelvin Bryant (strained right quadriceps) also are expected to miss the game.

Dressel spent two productive seasons with the Oilers after being selected in the third round of the 1983 draft. Playing the H-back position in an offense similar to Washington's, he caught a total of 72 passes for 694 yards and six touchdowns in '83 and '84. But in 1985, the Oilers switched to a two-back, one-tight end pro set, and he was not the one tight end.

"I was basically phased out," he said. In 1985, he caught three passes. In 1986, he caught none. He played only in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

When he got home from a trip to West Germany and Greece this summer, he learned he had been traded to the Redskins. Dressel, 6-4, arrived at camp weighing almost 250 pounds, quite a bit more than the 225 to 230 in Houston. But he knew he was going to be asked to block here, backing up Warren.

"The opportunity is there," he said. "Someone thought that I could fill the void even before I got here, obviously, or they wouldn't have come after me . . . I think I can fill in admirably if Donnie got hurt or if something happened and they wanted me to play.

"I certainly don't think I can beat out Donnie. He's a helluva player. But I can help."