The NFL players' strike has been over for almost three weeks, yet its effects still are being felt by the Washington Redskins.

Yesterday, the Redskins released ex-replacement running back Lionel Vital, the National Football Conference's fourth-leading rusher, but kept seven other members of their undefeated replacement team on their final 50-man roster.

Meanwhile, Mark Murphy, assistant executive director of the NFL Players Association, said he was "concerned" about the lack of playing time for middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz, the team's player representative. Olkewicz, a former starter who injured his right knee in the first preseason game, has played sparingly in the two games after the strike. He has not regained his starting job, and the prospects for him to do so look dim because middle linebacker Rich Milot and outside linebackers Monte Coleman and Mel Kaufman are playing very well.

Murphy said the union is "monitoring" Olkewicz's situation. "There is no question he should be playing," Murphy said yesterday. "When somebody starts for an organization for eight years and then gets injured, he should be able to regain his job when he is healthy. Teams have a policy that players cannot lose their jobs due to an injury. I can point to other players on the Redskins who were injured and came back and regained their jobs."

Coach Joe Gibbs said Olkewicz's union duties have no bearing on his playing time. "I don't believe anyone in our organization believes Neal Olkewicz's not playing has anything to do with his union activities," Gibbs said. "We don't play politics. Everybody we have here is in the union. The union's never had one bit of opposition around here. We don't mind the union one bit."

Olkewicz declined comment yesterday.

In their final post-strike roster cutdown, the Redskins released two players and placed three more on injured reserve. In addition to Vital, the Redskins cut veteran tight end Cliff Benson, who backed up blocking tight end Don Warren in the first two games of the season and then was replaced by former nonunion players Joe Caravello and Craig McEwen.

Rookie cornerback Brian Davis, the team's top choice in the 1987 draft, was placed on injured reserve with a lingering hamstring injury. The Redskins also placed center Eric Coyle and McEwen on injured reserve, both with bad backs. McEwen, another standout on the replacement team, was on the active roster for the last two games.

Seven former replacement players made the 50-man roster: wide receiver Anthony Allen, guard Darrick Brilz, safety Steve Gage, running back Tim Jessie, wide receiver/punt returner Derrick Shepard, cornerback Dennis Woodberry and Caravello. The Redskins kept more replacements than originally expected, illustrating the depth of the Redskins organization's appreciation for its replacements, not to mention the fact that the team unearthed some unexpectedly good players during the strike.

The Redskins released Vital, whose 346 rushing yards still lead the team, to give him a chance to play somewhere else, Gibbs said. Vital had not been activated for the two games after the strike and was at best sixth-string.

"He is talented enough to play, but we just couldn't give him an opportunity here," Gibbs said. "Other teams are interested in him. Hopefully, he can be picked up and catch on somewhere."

Last week, Vital said his agent told him Denver, the Los Angeles Rams and Detroit were interested in him.

Murphy said the union grew concerned about Olkewicz's situation when he was placed on the six-week injured list instead of the four-week injured list when the season began. "He was about a week or two away {from being healthy} when the season started," Murphy said. "He should have been put on the four-week IR list or on the active roster."

The Redskins said at the time that Olkewicz's injury, which required surgery to repair torn cartilage, warranted his being placed on the six-week list.

"We pride ourselves on playing the best guys," Gibbs said. "We don't play politics. We play the best players we have. I don't think anybody around here thinks we do anything but that. And, in this situation, we have three good guys playing. I think Olky's a heck of a player, and I think he will be playing this year. But, right now, we've got three guys who are playing very well."

Murphy was the Redskins' player representative during the 1982 strike and was waived in the summer of 1985 after being injured the season before. Murphy said he believed his union activities caused him to not regain his starting job and to eventually be released. Milot then became the player representative before being replaced by Olkewicz.

Redskins Notes:

Coach Joe Gibbs says the NFL should fire ineffective game officials to improve the consistency of calls.

"I say if the guy shows that he doesn't exhibit that he makes good calls, then you've got to replace the guy because we need people that can make good, clear decisions for you all the time," Gibbs said.

"That's the problem and obviously it's happening in the NFL right now, just inconsistencies that bother everybody.

"What we've got to get is the right guy running the replay, get the right people up there."

This is the second season for the league's replay rule in which an official may overturn calls by field officials with indisputable proof from video replays.

Gibbs suggested the NFL hire full-time game officials rather than the part-time workers.

"{The league needs} better trained people . . . that are professional, that spend hours and days training and then being replaced if they can't do the job," Gibbs said.