Various people at Redskin Park are known for certain things. Doug Williams, for instance, has his great arm. Joe Gibbs has his quarterback controversy. George Rogers has his nagging injuries. Jack Kent Cooke has his millions. And Raleigh McKenzie has his, um, "wide base."

For those who haven't been paying attention, McKenzie is the man who gets the ball into the hands of the Washington Redskins' quarterback, whoever that is. He is short by NFL standards and stocky at 6 feet 2 and 275 pounds. As a guard or center, he is the best pass-blocker on the team. And he's durable. He has never missed a practice or a game he was scheduled to play in during three seasons here.

Were McKenzie playing a position of more prominence and publicity, his conscientiousness, intelligence and stature on this team would not still be a secret around town.

As for his build, that "wide base," it's left for a teammate to tell all.

"In my 11 years in the league, I've never seen a guy pass block as well as Raleigh," fellow offensive linemate R.C. Thielemann was saying yesterday. "Why? Because he has the biggest rear I've ever seen. When he sets to block a 300-pound guy trying to run him over, he can get great leverage."

McKenzie is a quiet, extremely polite, rather shy fellow. He wears tortoise-shell glasses he bought in college and has had to glue together once or twice. It's about time to buy some new ones, he says. He had a 3.6 grade-point average in high school and ranked fourth in his class of 160 students. (His twin brother was first.) In college at Tennessee, he had a 2.6 and graduated with a marketing degree.

So, how about this "wide base?"

"My biggest asset is my strength," he began. "I have good feet. At least Coach {Joe} Bugel {the assistant head coach/offense} says I have good feet. As far as my base, I have big, strong thighs and great lower-body strength. I've always been wide. I guess I've got a big rear. All I know is that I'm able to get my strength from my lower body, which is good when you're trying to back up and at the same time catch a player the size of a mini-car coming at you."

McKenzie's ability to set crushing blocks helped set in motion the biggest change on the Redskins offensive line in Gibbs' seven seasons with the team. McKenzie started only five games last season, mainly filling in when others were hurt, but that was enough to tell the coaches he had to be playing more. Like all the time. Few probably remember that McKenzie started the NFC championship game against the New York Giants as a blocking back to try to help the Redskins run against New York. It didn't help, but it wasn't McKenzie's fault.

This summer, the Redskins moved four-time Pro Bowl guard Russ Grimm to center to create a spot for McKenzie. They wanted him in there somewhere, and figured Grimm's old left guard slot was as good as any.

When Grimm was injured and backup center Jeff Bostic and Jay Schroeder had problems with a snap at Philadelphia, the center job became McKenzie's. He had played center in college and had tried it on occasion in practice with the Redskins. With this new job, he performed flawlessly in the Detroit game, will start at center Monday night against the Los Angeles Rams and almost certainly will have the job as long as Grimm is out.

Like quarterback Doug Williams, McKenzie is black. And neither of them can remember a black center-quarterback combination in the NFL. Both, however, played in such a situation in college; Williams at Grambling, McKenzie with former Redskins replacement quarterback Tony Robinson at Tennessee.

"I see myself as a role model for black kids," McKenzie said yesterday. "It's not like being a black quarterback or a black coach, but it is something to be an offensive lineman and be black, because there aren't many black offensive linemen around. When I was a kid playing football, nobody wanted to be an offensive lineman. We had tons of running backs and wide receivers, just no offensive linemen. It's not a position you really know about. It's not glorified, it's not in the limelight.

"From my point of view, when you're young, you want the glamour. You like guys who spike the ball, who score touchdowns. You like linebackers like the Boz who hit people. I was a linebacker, and then I switched to the line my sophomore year of college. And you know, I really like it, and I didn't think I would."

With the Volunteers, he at first wasn't a very good center. "I had trouble with the snap-and-move at the same time," he said. So he watched tapes of himself to try to figure out what he was doing wrong, and then practiced. "Reps, reps, reps," he said. "I've always liked to practice."

Knock on wood, but McKenzie has been an iron man in a game that strikes down players as fast as you can say, "Chop block." In 11 years, from high school and college through the pros, McKenzie has never missed a practice or a game. Never missed a one. For the record, he had perfect attendance in junior high and high school too.

His parents down in Knoxville, Tenn., saw to that. Raleigh was born three minutes after twin brother Reggie, who would be absolutely identical were he not 245 pounds and wearing the black and silver of the Los Angeles Raiders. Reggie starts at inside linebacker for the Raiders.

"They taught us to never want to miss anything," Raleigh said.

Gibbs said that if the twins had a younger brother who played football, which they don't, he would "go for him for this team in a minute." Such is high praise from the coach.

"Raleigh never hardly says a word," Gibbs said, "and I don't think he's ever missed a snap. He has become one of our most valuable guys."