Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said yesterday that Doug Williams could be his starting quarterback for just one game, or for as long as the rest of the season, and that Jay Schroeder will return to the starting lineup when Gibbs believes "Jay can do a better job for us than Doug's doing."

Williams, who replaced Schroeder in the first half and led the Redskins to a 20-13 win against Detroit Sunday, will start against the Los Angeles Rams Monday night at RFK Stadium. After that, it's anyone's guess in what has become the most volatile midseason controversy of Gibbs' seven years as head coach.

Gibbs also said that former replacement player Darrick Brilz probably will start at left guard in place of injured Ed Simmons, which means that veteran Jeff Bostic again has been passed over for an opening on the starting offensive line. Gibbs said Bostic will continue to snap on punts and play a reserve role on the offensive line.

"Nothing's wrong with Jeff Bostic's play," Gibbs said. "We've got other people we've been working in there. Jeff's taking the snapping role and being a backup to those spots really fits in with what we feel like is the best way to play him right now. Whether that's right or wrong, that's what we're doing."

Gibbs continued: "Jeff is a darn good football player. I think we've got some big young guys and Brilz is another one of them that played awful good. With Jeff being the deep snapper, it's easier for us to say he backs up at guard and center. Maybe that's not fair to him, but that's what we're doing."

Meantime, defensive coordinator Larry Peccatiello said if Rich Milot's sprained left ankle is healthy, he will return to practice Thursday as the starting middle linebacker. Neal Olkewicz has filled in for Milot the last two games.

Schroeder, who said he doesn't know when he will return to the starting lineup, offered the first concrete reason for his problems in a hastily called news conference last night at Redskin Park.

In the first half of the game against Detroit, Schroeder said, "I was probably pressing. I was trying to make plays when they weren't there."

Schroeder overthrew receivers on two passes and almost had two other passes intercepted before being benched by Gibbs with seven minutes left in the first half and the score tied, 3-3. Williams led the Redskins to two touchdowns and a 17-3 halftime lead.

There is no timetable for Schroeder's return, Gibbs said yesterday at his regular Monday news conference.

"I think Jay is the quarterback of the future for the Redskins," Gibbs said. "I think he'll be the guy who comes back, whenever that is, down the road, whether it's a week, two weeks, two years, whatever, I don't know what it's going to be."

Schroeder, who spoke with Gibbs at Redskin Park yesterday in a meeting both described as cordial, said he is going to spend his practice time getting ready to take over his old job whenever Gibbs asks him to.

"If I get the opportunity to play next week, the week after or next year, I want to be ready," Schroeder said.

Gibbs said he made his surprising decision to bench Schroeder not on any one play, but on an "accumulation" of items from practice and games since the players' strike ended four weeks ago.

"It's a very hard thing to go through," Gibbs said. "I feel for Jay. It hurts him. It hurts his pride and everything else. It's a painful thing for Jay and for me. I don't like doing it, but it's something I felt had to be done.

"In the game yesterday {Sunday}, I was wanting him to be sharp early. I was wanting our team to look sharp early. I was wanting them to do good things early. I did not feel like we were doing that. There came a point where I said I had to make the change, but it was not any one thing, any one play."

For the first time, Gibbs said he "gambled a little bit" by deciding to start Schroeder in the Redskins' first game after the strike, against the New York Jets. Schroeder sprained his right shoulder early in the first game of the season and could not throw for several weeks. He was able to practice in the last week or two of the strike, but there has been some question about whether the injury, combined with the layoff, has affected his play this season.

Gibbs, who found himself engaged in his longest news conference of the season, said one of the reasons he doesn't like changing quarterbacks is because of all the attention such a move draws.

Gibbs acknowledged that his players might take sides and line up behind either Williams or Schroeder. "Sure," he said, "there's always that risk."

As badly as Gibbs feels for Schroeder, he said he was "very pleased" for Williams, who, at 32, has been the subject of numerous trade rumors this year. As an assistant coach with Tampa Bay in 1978, Gibbs was responsible for helping draft Williams and coach him in his rookie season. They have been friends since.

"I'm glad to see him have good experiences," Gibbs said. "It's good to see a guy you think is a great guy get a good opportunity. I hope it all goes well."

Meanwhile, the Redskins offensive line continues to undergo change. For the second week in a row, a starter will undergo an arthroscopic knee examination. Last week, it was center Russ Grimm. Today, Simmons will have his sprained right knee examined, head trainer Bubba Tyer said. The 305-pound rookie probably will be out at least a month.

Gibbs said a decision probably will be made later in the week on whether running back George Rogers can play against the Rams. Rogers pulled up with a strained groin late in the first half of Sunday's game.