Raleigh McKenzie stood by the track at George Mason University yesterday and in his calm, quiet voice explained why he is on strike.

"Mainly, I'm striking for the same reasons everyone else is," said the Washington Redskins' starting left guard, who was one of several striking players working out individually at George Mason.

"I'm striking for the pension benefits, the increased rosters, the severance pay, the dental and medical benefits. {The issue of} free agency is overrated. But it is as much leverage as we've got.

"The owners are always coming out and saying free agency is a big deal and that they want us to throw it off the table. Then they say they'll talk. But if we do that, they'll come back and say, 'Throw out guaranteed contracts, or throw out this. Then we'll talk.' I believe in the union and I'm going to stand and fight for what I think is right."

There is some feeling that if the players got what they wanted in pension, severance, guaranteed contracts and other areas, free agency might become less of a stumbling block in reaching an agreement.

"I really think so," McKenzie said. "If free agency is the problem, then let's talk about free agency last. But they {the owners} don't want to talk about it last.

"They're playing a waiting game. They say they don't want to break the union, but they're bringing in scabs and doing all the things that contradict what they say. They're waiting to see how the games come out and we're doing the same thing."

Cornerback and safety Vernon Dean wouldn't talk about his personal views on the issues.

"I'm on strike because a majority of our union voted to strike," Dean said. "I don't want to get into what I think. It's we, as a union, that is on strike, not one person. It's all 1,585 {members}."

Wide receiver Gary Clark said the free agency question had some importance but it wasn't the only issue.

"The only things that would help me immediately are the guaranteed contracts and free agency," said Clark after almost a four-hour workout. "The other things will help down the road. But there are guys who are now down the road. There are guys who have spent six to 10 years of their life in this game and they just want what they're due. I'm basically striking for, well, if we can get free agency and guaranteed contracts, that would be great. But there is also pension {and} severance, which are great for everybody.

"We know we're not going to get everything. You give a little and then they give a little."

Added McKenzie, "It doesn't have to be astronomical, just a little better than we have."

The players spoken to yesterday all said they were prepared to spend the entire season on strike.

"It wouldn't do me any good to cross the line," said Clark.

"Waiting for the last couple games and then going in would defeat the purpose of what we're doing now," McKenzie said. Other than wanting the strike settled, McKenzie said there is a "a lot of confusion" among fans.

"The fans who understand the union and have taken the time to look at the issues, understand what we're doing," McKenzie said.

There will be NFL football games Sunday and Monday. The replacement players are scheduled to play their first games this week, with the substitute Redskins meeting the substitute St. Louis Cardinals at 1 p.m. Sunday at RFK Stadium.

"The tradition that has been in Washington," said Clark, "has been Slingin' Sammy {Baugh}, Billy Kilmer, Sonny Jurgensen, Joe Theismann and now Jay Schroeder and Doug Williams. These are the guys that gave us thrills. The fans can do what they want, because the game is for them. But these are the Redskins -- we're their team. If anything, they should root for us. Why would they want their thrills from somebody off the street?

"We'll be at the stadium. I hope the fans come out and see us. We'll be talking football with our fans. I hope they don't go in, but if they do, that's fine, because the game was meant for them. Maybe we'll play touch football in the parking lot."

Clark said that although pro football is a "money game," few players think about how much they make once the game begins. And once on the field, Clark says he plays for the fans, which is why it will bother him if the fans go to future games involving replacement players.

"Personally, and I'm not talking for the other guys or the union, I would be hurt," Clark said. "They would be saying that they really don't care who puts on a Redskins uniform."

Redskins Notes:

Tuesday is normally a day off. But the replacement Redskins had meetings yesterday afternoon and some of the offensive players walked through plays at Redskins Park. Today they will return to regular practice.