The Washington Redskins released 15 players yesterday, including running back Rick Badanjek and linebacker Shawn Burks, and placed three more on injured reserve, including offensive tackle Wally Kleine, their second choice in the 1987 NFL draft.

Tight end Todd Frain, who played in two games at the end of last season, also was released. Running back Dwight Garner (bruised foot) and cornerback Johnny Thomas (sprained ankle) joined Kleine (knee surgery) on injured reserve.

The others released were offensive tackle Darrick Brilz, offensive tackle Mark Carlson, center Eric Coyle, running back Kenny Fells, kicker Andre Guardi, wide receiver Leonard Harris, defensive end Steve Martin, quarterback Ed Rubbert, linebacker Tony Settles, defensive tackle Steve Thompson, tight end Dave Truitt and punter Jack Weil.

The Redskins must trim five more players from their roster by 4 p.m. today to get to the required 60-man limit.

Some of the Redskins' decisions clearly defined who will play at certain positions this season. With the release of Badanjek, in his second year from Maryland, Reggie Branch, known for his special teams play, won the fifth and final roster spot at running back.

When Guardi and Weil were released, it finalized the already foregone conclusion that Jess Atkinson and Steve Cox will keep their positions this season at kicker and punter, respectively.

But other spots on the team, especially tight end and linebacker, are still "very complicated" and "kind of a nightmare," said Coach Joe Gibbs.

At tight end, confusion reigns. Three of the four roster spots are open at the moment; of the incumbents, only veteran Don Warren is healthy and available to practice and play. H-back Clint Didier said yesterday his pulled left hamstring was "very sore and tender." Tight end coach Rennie Simmons said a possible decision to place Didier on injured reserve (he then would have to miss at least four regular season games) will be made by next Monday, when the team must reach its final 45-man roster.

"I don't think we'd make that decision until next week, if we did make that decision," Simmons said. "It doesn't do us any good to do it now. We'd rather take the time to evaluate it, because, either way, we couldn't get him back any sooner."

Terry Orr, the reserve H-back who has a severely bruised left shoulder, is "another possibility" for injured reserve, Simmons said.

"We thought Orr would be out four or five days originally," Gibbs said. "That has complicated the picture for us. Obviously, we're scrambling."

It appears newly acquired tight end Glenn Dennison is the leading candidate for the H-back spot. Gibbs, who rarely singles out players without being asked about them first, mentioned Dennison without prompting yesterday.

"Dennison, I was extremely pleased with," Gibbs said. "He jumps in there last week {at Tampa Bay} and winds up playing the whole game after he had only been here a week. That says a lot for him."

Dennison was a second-round draft pick of the New York Jets in 1984. After a strong rookie season, he was injured in 1985 and then released. New England signed him and then traded him to the Redskins for an undisclosed draft choice two weeks ago.

Rookie free agent Craig McEwen is another strong candidate for a job at H-back. "I can't answer right now who is No. 1 for us," Simmons said. "I do know that Dennison and McEwen are our only healthy established H-backs."

Veteran Chris Dressel, acquired in a trade with Houston over the summer, has been playing second-string behind Warren at the blocking tight end spot.

Badanjek, a popular, feisty running back who holds the Maryland record for touchdowns in a season (16) and a career (49), said getting cut by the Redskins "was a shock." He was on the roster for six games last season before injuring a hamstring and spending the rest of the season on injured reserve.

"I thought I was going to be here, but that's the way it goes in the NFL," Badanjek, a seventh-round draft choice in 1986, said as he left Redskin Park. "Hopefully I will be picked up by somebody. If not, I'll try next year."

Branch had been blocking for Badanjek in the I-formation on short-yardage situations this preseason. Badanjek said last week he knew how important special teams are to the Redskins, and thought Branch had the edge on him there. Yesterday, he found out he was right.

"Joe has said he wanted an outstanding special teams player who also contributed in other areas," said running backs coach Don Breaux. "Reggie got himself in tremendous condition this offseason. In the past, we have looked at it as having four running backs and one specialist."

The Redskins' other running backs are George Rogers, Kelvin Bryant, Keith Griffin and rookie Timmy Smith. It is still unknown when Rogers will practice and play again after reinjuring his sprained left big toe Saturday night at Tampa Bay.

Burks, in his second season from Louisiana State, was the team's reserve middle linebacker last year and played on special teams. With his release, Kurt Gouveia looks like the backup to Rich Milot at middle linebacker, at least until Neal Olkewicz returns from a knee injury.

Defensive tackle Dave Butz, who has a bruised left calf muscle, said he would be able to play against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday night. Cornerback Tim Morrison, the likely starter opposite Darrell Green against the Rams, will "hopefully" be able to practice this week, Gibbs said. Morrison suffered a bruised right calf muscle against Tampa Bay.