Comparisons. Everyone wants comparisons. Just how good -- or how bad -- is the nonunion team the Washington Redskins are assembling behind the locked gates of Redskin Park? Is it better than a college team? A semipro team? A USFL team? And if they played, how badly would the replacement Redskins lose to the striking Redskins?

Yesterday afternoon, the Redskins opened the door on their previously private practices and let members of the media see what their nonunion team looks like. The new players did not look as bad as one might have expected. They didn't look all that great, either. But they stood in the right spots and ran traditional Redskins plays and didn't do anything that made them look silly.

Owner Jack Kent Cooke was there to watch practice and smiled broadly as he left. General Manager Bobby Beathard smiled, too.

"We've got a good team, I hope," he said.

The new Redskins ran easier plays and made more mistakes, but, on pass plays, especially, they seemed to have some sense of timing. They were quieter than the striking Redskins, but they were neither silent nor somber. Most of them know each others' names after four days together, and some say the team actually has banded together quite well.

While most of the striking Redskins took the day off (only a brief picket line was assembled in the early afternoon), their 56 nonunion replacements spent 2 1/2 hours on the field, going through the toughest of their seven practices to date.

"I think it went okay," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We're smoothing some things out. It's more settled as the days go by. It's becoming a routine for {the players}."

Skip Lane, a 27-year-old free safety who has played for the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs as well as in the Canadian and U.S. Football Leagues, said he thought the replacement Redskins now were "better than the {USFL's} Memphis Showboats were at the end of training camp.

"The coaches are winging it, and doing a great job," said Lane, who left his job as a commercial real estate broker in Connecticut to play here. "I thought practices were going to be sloppier than they are. I'm really surprised. The coaches are being real professional about this. . . . They're doing what they have to do. Two years from now, people will see the record of the Redskins in 1987 and not remember who was playing, anyway."

The players ran what the Redskins call their "script," the offensive and defensive plays they are likely to run in their first game, scheduled for next Sunday at 1 p.m. at RFK Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals, unless the NFL players' strike is settled.

The plays were not as intricate or as involved as they usually are, but there was motion on offense and criss-crossing pass patterns behind relatively basic blocking schemes.

Ed Rubbert, who returned to the nonunion team Friday, quarterbacked the first team offense, followed by Jack Stanley and Kevin Sisk. Tony Robinson, awaiting a decision from NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to find out if he can play in the wake of a drug-related conviction, watched in a gray sweatsuit. The Redskins expect to hear from Rozelle by early next week.

Rubbert said he "made a mistake" in leaving Wednesday night after the first day of practice, when tensions between the striking Redskins and their replacements ran high.

"It's a great opportunity to play, to do something positive," Rubbert said after practice. "It was a mistake for me to leave. There were just a lot of things going on."

Rubbert said he did not receive any more money to return to the Redskins. "In fact, I would have come back and played for less. I felt bad about leaving," he said.

The Redskins are running about 10 passing plays and 10 running plays right now, Rubbert said, with variations off each one. "What helps is that there are guys who have been here at training camp who have got it down," said Rubbert, the team's fourth-string quarterback in training camp this summer.

Seven of the 11 defensive players and eight of the 11 offensive players who ran with the first team yesterday were in a Redskins' training camp. That includes the entire defensive secondary and the team's backfield and receivers.

"There's still a great deal of work to be done," said offensive assistant coach Dan Henning. "We have some players who have been with us before who have been able to pick it up a little quicker. But we're taking a very controlled approach. There are going to be some problems, but there are going to be some improvements, definitely."

Or, in the words of Joe Gibbs: "It's kind of like we've got so much to do, we don't know where to start."

Gibbs said the other day he would start at the very beginning -- with the huddle. The new players have that down pat. Signals, a very important part of the coach-to-player communication network the Redskins have installed, are coming along. Running backs coach Don Breaux flashed them to Rubbert, who knows them, while the other three quarterbacks watched intently.

There were glitches, some discernible, probably many more unnoticeable except to the trained eye of a coach. Players occasionally turned the wrong way, looked for passes too soon, lined up on the wrong side or had to stop for a pass to catch up with them. There were few bombs and more shorter, possession passes.