Skip Lane popped out of the Washington Redskins' locker room yesterday afternoon in turquoise pants, an open-neck white sweat top (the collar was up), gray Topsiders and a white baseball cap. "Skip looks dapper today," observed Danny Burmeister, a fellow nonunion Redskin. Indeed, Skip did look dapper.

The wind was up at Redskin Park, and, if he hadn't had anything else to do the rest of the day, Lane said he probably would have gone sailing. Little more than a week ago, he led the life of a successful commercial real estate broker in Westport, Conn. He drove a Porsche, planned a month-long sailing vacation to Bermuda, met friends in the city on weekends and occasionally traveled to Jersey to watch his old teammates, the New York Jets.

But when the NFL players went on strike last Tuesday, Lane's life changed. To play football again, he took a $100,000 pay cut, he sheepishly admitted yesterday, signing with the Redskins for about $75,000 for the full season. At 27, he suddenly acquired a roommate and an 11 p.m. curfew. But he also got himself a spot on a professional depth chart and a likely starting job at free safety for this Sunday's nonunion game against St. Louis at 1 p.m. at RFK Stadium.

"I can always go back to the real world," Lane said. "How often do you get another chance to play football?"

Lane's agent, a man named Farrell Elliott, reached him at the office last Tuesday and asked him if he wanted "to play some football," Lane said. Elliott had called the Redskins on Lane's behalf, suggesting they might want to sign his client.

For a man given to upward mobility, Lane has an extensive blue-collar football background. He was a backup quarterback, then a starting cornerback at Mississippi in the early '80s. He went to the Canadian Football League in 1983 and played wide receiver for Calgary, then caught on with the Jets as a cornerback in 1984. As a footnote, Lane intercepted a Jay Schroeder pass in the teams' preseason scrimmage at Lafayette College.

Lane played mostly on special teams for six games with the Jets in 1984, then was released and went to Kansas City for a game. Out of work again in 1985, he played for the Verona Redskins in the Italian Football League for two seasons before trying out for Toronto of the CFL this summer. On the last cut, he was released.

"I decided then it was time to get on with my life. I promised my partner that was it for football. He was in Italy last week when my agent called. When he got back, he found an empty office and a few secretaries. I was gone," Lane said.

It was all such a rush that he didn't have time to go home and pack. "All I've got with me are two pairs of jeans and some sailing clothes I had in the back of my car," he said.

Reporters first noticed Lane last week sunbathing on the artificial turf at Redskin Park on the players' lunch break. "This is like a vacation," he said then. "I'm out here in the fresh air. If I were back home, I'd be having a business lunch or trying to figure out how many square feet are in this building."

Quickly, it became clear Lane was not here simply on a lark. Burmeister, originally the first-team free safety, noticed how fast Lane picked up the Redskins terminology. Yesterday, Lane was playing with the first team, and the coaches have indicated to him he will start, as things stand now.

Free safety is the one position Lane always thought he should play, but never did. "Unfulfilled dreams," he said. "All I wanted was a shot." Now he will get his chance, at least for one Sunday in one NFL stadium.

Lane does not share the burden some players have placed on their decision to cross or not cross the players' picket line. He figures Jets nose tackle Joe Klecko, a good friend, now might not keep his appointment at an open house Lane is having for a building he is trying to sell or lease, but, other than that, he sees no lingering consequences from his decision.

"I don't see where the scab term applies to me," he said. "The players are just trying to make us look bad. I hear {Raiders tight end} Todd Christensen with his little quotes and little cliches. Well, he doesn't realize what a dream it is for these players to have just one day in his life."

But Lane, who is 6 foot 1 and 210 pounds, realizes this go-round with the NFL is different than his last one. "With all the Redskins know about me, I could have a criminal record and my name could be Charles Manson."

Or "Biff," he admitted. Preppies make atypical football players. "People wonder if I have a sister named Muffy," he said, explaining away his nickname with, "I come from a nautical family."

Lane has seen RFK Stadium once before, but only from the outside. A year ago, he and some friends bet on the Washington-Dallas game, then, on the spur of the moment, decided to fly down to buy tickets from scalpers and watch the game in person. When they got out of their cab at RFK, they found an empty parking lot.

"The game was in Dallas," Lane said. "So we got back in the cab and went to Georgetown to watch the game there."

In many ways, Lane is a Walter Mitty, playing out his fantasies one last time. Some of his buddies from back home will be making the trip to RFK Stadium to watch him play.

"They're all pumped," Lane said. "There are no football players in Westport. All the people really care about is the market and big business. There's Paul Newman {living there}, and Rodney Dangerfield and Phil Donahue. Then there's Skip Lane. I guess I have my own local following. My friends are pumped, I guess because they're living vicariously through me."

Ed Rubbert continues to practice at first-team quarterback, but Tony Robinson received quite a bit of playing time and likely will play Sunday . . . Coach Joe Gibbs when told that Cardinals wide receiver Roy Green and defensive end Curtis Greer had crossed the picket line and might play Sunday, said "Anytime somebody comes across like that, a real good player, obviously, it makes for a tough situation for the other team." . . . The Redskins had their first injury when defensive end Alec Gibson sprained his right ankle . . . An errant placement kick by Obed Ariri broke a window in the Redskin Park weight room yesterday. Replacement cost? $95.