The Washington Redskins, preparing to begin practice with their new football team Wednesday, have reached verbal agreements with about 40 players and have set a goal of signing a total of 60 free agents to form a squad to use during the NFL players strike.

Some of the players who agreed to join the Redskins were with the team in training camp: quarterback Ed Rubbert, tight end Todd Frain, wide receiver Ted Wilson, defensive linemen Ted Chapman and Steve Thompson, linebackers Steve Nave, Tony Settles and Carlton Rose, offensive tackle Darrick Brilz and safety Charles Jackson, sources said.

Kicker Obed Ariri, formerly with Tampa Bay, also agreed to join the Redskins. Team officials caution that until a player arrives and signs a contract, he could change his mind. Some already have done that and have either decided to join another team or not cross the players' picket line.

The Redskins met last night at tight end Clint Didier's home to cast their votes on a strike. Player representative Neal Olkewicz said about 50 players attended the meeting and, in a voice vote, unanimously agreed to go on strike.

"It's encouraging that it's unanimous," Olkewicz said. "The worst thing that could happen is if the majority went out and one or two didn't and crossed the picket line. People would remember that for the rest of their careers."

Every Redskin player is expected to man the team's picket line beginning at 9 a.m. today in front of Redskin Park in Herndon, Olkewicz said. All the players will be on the line for a day or so, Olkewicz said, then groups will be formed to share the duty.

Team officials are expected to use buses to transport the new players from an undisclosed hotel or residence to team meetings and practices, beginning Wednesday. Officials would not confirm those plans, but Olkewicz, who last week said he would "physically" confront players who crossed the picket line, said he understands the team will use buses to get past the picket line.

"Other than a bazooka or something, I don't know how to stop a bus," Olkewicz said yesterday, laughing. "We'll have to talk to Rambo."

Members of the Fairfax County police department met with team officials and the players last Friday to discuss the picketing, Olkewicz said. "We can't be on the {Redskin Park} grounds," he said, "so we'll be on the sidewalk."

Olkewicz said he understood security and/or police protection would be increased and tightened at Redskin Park today. A Fairfax County police spokesperson said he could not confirm stepped up security, but said as long as the pickets do not disrupt "entrance or exit" into Redskin Park and traffic on Redskin Drive, there would be no problems.

Inside the building, Coach Joe Gibbs, General Manager Bobby Beathard and their staffs will be putting together a team that is expected to play its first game against St. Louis Oct. 4 at 1 p.m. at RFK Stadium. This week's game against New England is expected to be postponed. These games will count toward the playoffs.

"I have a tough time with that," Gibbs said. "But if that's what we're supposed to do, that's what we'll do. I don't think anyone wants to do it, but we don't seem to have a choice . . . I think this whole thing is really a mess. We all have one of the best deals in the world, every side, and we're messing it up."

Gibbs said he met with his team for a "long talk" yesterday afternoon before a short practice. He then sent his players on their way, many with bags full of shoes and personal items slung over their shoulders. Gibbs said he did not specifically discuss practices for the players while they are on strike, but Olkewicz said he has made "tentative plans" for team practices.

"Right now, we'll work out on our own, but the receivers and quarterbacks will need to keep their timing down," he said.

As they picket or practice, others will take their place at Redskin Park. Beathard was asked which players he was bringing to the Redskins. "None that you've heard of," he said, breaking into a smile.

The Redskins are going after players who have been in their training camps and know their system. "Now you'll see guys who were overlooked," Beathard said. No one yet has signed a contract to play with the Redskins. "It's hot and heavy recruiting," he said. The Redskins are "a little light" in committed personnel in the secondary and at tight end, Beathard said.

Contracts being offered are standard NFL contracts, he said, adding the Redskins are "not necessarily" offering minimum salaries. Beathard said approximately 12 to 15 players accepted the Redskins' $1,000 strike option contracts, which simply bound a player to that team if they chose to play during a strike. Every player who accepts the Redskins offer is being told there are no assurances to play once the strike is settled, Beathard said. "A lot of them look at it as an opportunity to impress the coaches," he said.

The idea of playing games with men who were cut sometime this summer or earlier doesn't sit well with most Redskins officials or present players.

But Gibbs and Beathard said they do not expect any current players to report to practice Wednesday.

Olkewicz was just about the only Redskin talking about the strike yesterday. He said his teammates were leery of speaking out. "I'm sure it's out of fear of getting cut or some other reprisals," he said. Staff writers Ken Denlinger and Dave Sell contributed to this report.