Running back George Rogers has been injured from head to big toe this season, yet the Washington Redskins still are second in the National Football Conference in rushing.

Clearly, the Redskins are no longer dumping their running back load on one person. Rogers, who has had four 1,000-yard seasons, yesterday made yet another appearance on the injury report with a strained groin, and not a coach at Redskin Park made so much as a peep about it.

Apparently, the Redskins are resigned to the fact that Rogers -- who is listed as probable for Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Rams -- will miss a game or two or three every season. In the meantime, assistant coach Don Breaux said the Redskins' running back rotation has "fallen into place."

In other words, Breaux says the Redskins are content keeping Kelvin Bryant in a long-yardage, third-down-passing-situation role. He says they are no longer counting on him becoming an every-down back, because of health and durability.

For instance, the Redskins were set to give Bryant the starting role in a game against the New York Jets this year, but Bryant felt a "twinge" in his hamstring and couldn't start.

"In a given game, he could do it {every down}, but week to week it might not be the best idea," Breaux said.

Instead, they will continue using Rogers as the starter -- when healthy -- and then bring in either rookie Timmy Smith or Keith Griffin.

In essence, the Redskins philosophy has become running back by committee. Four people have led the team in single-game rushing this year, and ex-replacement player Lionel Vital still is the team's season leader with 346 yards.

Bryant, on the other hand, is suddenly the team's leading receiver with 24 receptions and five touchdowns. He has gained more than 100 rushing and receiving yards in two games this year, which is why the Redskins finally figure the best policy with Bryant is quality, not quantity.

That the Redskins could lead the conference in rushing without a healthy Rogers is quite an accomplishment. From the first day of training camp, Coach Joe Gibbs wanted a resurgence in the running game, mainly because the Redskins gained a grand total of 145 rushing yards in three games against the New York Giants last year.

The first step was upgrading the offensive line a few hundred pounds -- thus, the move of Russ Grimm from guard to center. The second step was handing the ball off more. Last year, the Redskins ran the ball 45.4 percent of the time, the least amount in the Joe Gibbs era.

This year, they're running it 54.6 percent of the time, the most since the 1983 season, when they ran 55.7 percent of the time and went 14-2 and to the Super Bowl.

"{The running game} is less of a worry now," Breaux said. "Absolutely. There was a real emphasis from day one."

After the strike, Vital figured he could do better elsewhere and asked to be released. The Redskins accommodated, Breaux said, because "Lionel had problems protecting the ball."

Speaking of fumbling, Griffin has lost the ball twice since the NFL players' strike ended, including one in last week's 20-13 victory over Detroit with 2:32 remaining. Yet, Breaux says the Redskins still aren't scared to use him in a close game.

Ironically, Rogers -- who has become somewhat noted as a fumbler -- hasn't done so in 184 consecutive carries. In practice, Redskins defenders constantly tug at the ball when he carries and it has almost become second-nature for Rogers to grip the ball with two hands.

"We've stressed it and stressed it to him," Breaux said. "We overemphasized it. I think he got tired of hearing people tell him to hold on."

By now, two years after his arrival from New Orleans, people are finally understanding Rogers. He has missed games this year with a shoulder and a big toe injury, not to mention all the headaches from questions that have arisen about his durability.

"I think he's been productive for us," Breaux said. "Yes, George has maybe lost a step, but his instincts are excellent, and he knocks the pile back. For six years, he's carried the football an awful lot. What he does is attempt to stay in good shape year-round, and from that standpoint, I'm impressed.

"He followed a true superstar, John Riggins. Riggins was absolutely adored; George is not. He doesn't have that rapport that Riggins had. Riggins was a great entertainer. George is just George."

Redskins Notes:

Safety Todd Bowles (knee), running back Reggie Branch (wrist), Dean Hamel (knee) and safety Clarence Vaughn (ankle) were listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Rams. Guard/tackle Ed Simmons (knee) is out . . . Cornerback Darrell Green was named the NFC's defensive player of the week; Rams running back Charles White was offensive player.