CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 24 -- Coach Joe Gibbs said after this morning's practice at Dickinson College there is "a chance" that two major cogs in the Washington Redskins' defense -- right end Dexter Manley and middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz -- will be ready for the season opener, Sept. 13 against Philadelphia.

During the Aug. 8 scrimmage against the New York Jets, Manley suffered a partial tear in the medial collateral ligament of his right knee. Manley is wearing a brace, but did run some this morning, Gibbs said.

"With Dexter, I think there's a chance he could be ready," Gibbs said.

In the Redskins' first preseason game against the the Pittsburgh Steelers, Aug. 14, Olkewicz tore medial meniscus cartilage in his right knee, which required arthro-scopic surgery. Olkewicz first hobbled around camp on crutches and then started rehabilitation.

"I asked Bubba {Tyer, the trainer} if there was a chance he could play in the opener and he said 'yes,' " Gibbs said.

Olkewicz said the swelling has moved from his knee to his calf.

"I've been lying with my leg propped up and watching 'Andy Griffith,' " Olkewicz said, adding he hopes to be through with the crutches in a couple of days. "Right now, I just want to walk and take one step at a time."

As for the opener, he said, "I think there's a chance. It's a matter of how it goes from here. I'm optimistic."

Olkewicz, the Redskins' representative to the NFL Players Association, said he thinks the union is sufficiently unified to strike if its contract demands are not met.

"Not everybody, but overall we are," Olkewicz said. "We don't want to strike if we don't have to. But I believe we are {unified enough}."

The contract with the owners expires next Monday, but that doesn't appear to be a deadline for completing negotiations. If at least three games are played, that would satisfy the minimum requirement for a year's service for pensions.

"We would probably go into the season a couple games," he said.

Both are back practicing, but Gibbs said the time lost to injury by running backs Kelvin Bryant and George Rogers is "a real concern."

"George came back out last week and Kelvin was out today," Gibbs said. "We need two good solid weeks where they can get knocked around a little."

Tackle Mark May, who did not play in Saturday's win over Green Bay because of a sore shoulder, practiced this morning.