Ed Rubbert tried it, didn't like it and left town -- to the cheers of the striking Washington Redskins, who were outside the Dulles Airport Marriott where the replacements are being housed.

Rubbert, who might have been the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins' replacement team if the strike by NFL players continues, was one of 45 players who practiced yesterday at Redskin Park, while the regulars picketed outside. After the replacements were bused back to the hotel, Rubbert walked out with his bag slung over his shoulder and his jaw closed. He offered no comment as he boarded a shuttle bus bound for the airport.

The Redskins released a roster of 55 players, 10 of whom did not make it to practice. League owners have said play will resume Oct. 4 even if the strike continues.

"They just said after thinking about it that they had changed their minds," Coach Joe Gibbs said of the departing players.

After his first day of coaching the replacement players, Gibbs said: "From our standpoint, we're basically starting from scratch. We're starting with the huddle, working backwards. You know, the basics, one, two, three."

Rubbert wasn't alone in his decision to leave. Two other players -- tight end Todd Frain and wide receiver Ted Wilson -- left around midday.

A fourth, cornerback Rod Hill, former No. 1 draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, left town this morning without ever coming to Redskin Park.

A wide receiver, Wilson was the Redskins' 10th-round draft choice this year out of Central Florida and made it until the last cut.

"One reason I came back was because I was so close to making the team," said Wilson, who left before practice. "With the rosters maybe going to 49 {it is a topic in the negotiations} when they come back, I thought maybe I could be one of the four.

"The main reason I left is that a lot of the guys out there {picketing} are my friends. I didn't realize it would be so much pressure.

"When I got off the bus, I started to think, 'What would I do if that was me? If I make it in the league and plan on joining the union, how would it affect me then? How would they feel about me if I stayed when they came back?' No matter where you are, somebody is going to resent it."

The team brought most of the replacements to the park on a bus at about 7:15 a.m. The strikers greeted them with taunts, and defensive tackle Darryl Grant smacked and cracked a window in the bus.

"I look at these guys as guys who would steal shoes off a dead man," Grant said later.

"They were trying to sneak us in," Wilson said. "Then we sat around for two hours doing nothing."

Said Frain: "It was different. I've never been through something like that."

He spent most of last season on injured reserve after signing as a rookie free agent from Nebraska. He played in one regular season game and then in the playoff game against Chicago.

"I decided to come back because I thought it would be a lot different," he said. "I thought there would be a lot more guys I knew. But hardly any came back.

"I left because I thought it was in the best interests of my career. A lot of guys {who continue to play} will take verbal abuse next year. I understand the {striking} players' reasoning -- they're fighting for jobs. The other guys are taking them, but they probably don't have jobs, either."

Both Wilson and Frain said that Gibbs and General Manager Bobby Beathard understood.

"They were both understanding," Wilson said. "They understood it is a tough situation and they said do whatever you've got to do."

Most of the others stayed, though. One was Lionel Vital.

Lately, he has been working in a store in rural Louisiana. Yesterday, he went back to being a running back. A 5-foot-9, 195-pounder, he was the Redskins' seventh-round draft choice in 1985 from Nicholls State.

He spent the '85 season on injured reserve and was then cut during the 1986 preseason. After a fling with organized baseball, he went home to Loreauville, La.

"In my case, this may be my last shot in the NFL," he said. "The guys out there need to understand the guys in here. This might be my last shot. You've got to take it. It may never come again.

"I understand what they're doing. I am a member of the union, or I was. But this may be my last shot and I'm not going to let someone else's thinking hinder my chance of being somebody. Your friends are going to be your friends and the people that aren't your friends are not going to be your friends, anyway. I know I'm good people."

Defensive tackle Dean Hamel, who used to be Vital's roommate, was among the Redskins walking the picket line. He tried to yell through the fence, to remind Vital of their past friendship.

Vital said he heard some of the yelling but didn't hear Hamel.

"I didn't hear him, but he's one who's going to have his fun," Vital said of Hamel. "He's a friend of mine. He's like a brother. Dean Hamel would fight half the world for me."

Well, maybe not.

"Tell him he can go to hell," Hamel said later. "I didn't know good friends stab each other in the back."

Vital said he understands the plight of the strikers.

"I feel bad about being here," he said. "I wish I didn't have to. If I was a three- or four-year guy and got cut, I wouldn't be here. But I got cut in my second year.

"I should've been somewhere {this year}. I look at TV all the time and I say, 'Gosh I can do that.'

"We, the scabs, won't hurt them," Vital said of the strikers. "We're not going to cause them to lose their jobs. When they get back, they'll have jobs. We're just trying to open some eyes."

He said he used the money he earned to invest in a liquor-grocery store in his hometown. But the life of a shopkeeper wasn't nearly enough fun.

"The guys inside like myself are just trying to get our names in the lights -- it's the American way," he said. "Sitting in the grocery store -- I didn't want to do that. I want to play in the NFL. I may lose some friends but I've got to live for Lionel."