The Washington Redskins, trying to figure out what is wrong with their special teams, decided yesterday to bring in former Redskins special teams coach Paul Lanham as a consultant this week and obtain a new long-snapper to free Jeff Bostic for a suddenly increased role on the offensive line.

There is a "strong chance" Bostic will start at center Sunday against the New York Giants, assistant head coach/offense Joe Bugel said through a spokesman at Redskin Park. Guard R.C. Thielemann sprained his left ankle in the Redskins' 30-26 loss to the Los Angeles Rams Monday night, and, if he cannot play Sunday, center Raleigh McKenzie could move to guard, with Bostic regaining his old center spot.

This is a strange shift of fortune for Bostic, a veteran who had been demoted and passed over several times for openings on the line the past few weeks.

"We are trying to get five solid guys," the spokesman for Bugel said. "Evaluations will be made this week. Hopefully, R.C. will be ready."

The news was not so positive for Bostic as a special teams player. He will be replaced on punt snapping by David Jones, a 6-foot-3, 266-pound center from Texas who played for the Detroit Lions in 1984 and 1985, Coach Joe Gibbs said. It's less likely Jones will take over the placement snapping duty from Darryl Grant, but Gibbs said Jones will practice there, too, before a decision is made.

Stunned by the poor performance of the special teams, Gibbs decided to bring in Lanham, a longtime friend, as "another set of eyes." Gibbs said he never before has brought in a consultant during the season. Special teams coach Chuck Banker, in his first year with the Redskins after coaching with the St. Louis Cardinals and Iowa State, said he is "all for" Lanham's visit and is "not worried" about his own status.

Lanham coached the Redskins special teams from 1973 to 1977, when they were in their heyday under George Allen. He most recently coached the receivers of the Detroit Lions in 1986 after working as an assistant under Allen with the U.S. Football League's Chicago Blitz and Arizona Wranglers.

"He's coming here as a friend for a couple days to watch what we're doing," Gibbs said in his news conference at Redskin Park. "He's another set of eyes. Maybe somebody else can give us a pointer or two."

If Lanham views the films of the Redskins-Rams game, he will get an eyeful. The Redskins' kickoff coverage team gave up a 95-yard touchdown return by sprinter Ron Brown and their punt protection team gave up a blocked Steve Cox punt inside the 5-yard line, leading to another Rams touchdown. That was the fourth time a Cox punt has been either partially or totally blocked this season. It also was the first time Cox has had a punt completely blocked since he became a Redskin Oct. 1, 1985.

After an earlier snap bounced before reaching Cox, Bostic's snap on the blocked punt was off the mark, forcing Cox to take a couple of steps to his right to get it. Banker said Cox "took a little longer than he normally does" on that punt. Asked if Bostic's snap was a reason, Banker said it "possibly" was.

Gibbs said the team's punt protection is going to be revamped this week, but the changes basically will be tactical.

"I remain convinced we have the guys to do the job," Gibbs said. "We're not looking at all to make wholesale personnel changes."

Gibbs said his kickoff coverage team made an "excellent effort" on three of its six turns. He did not blame Cox for much of the problems on punt protection, preferring to focus on the whole process, especially the snaps. "I think we would like our whole action back there to be a little quicker. We want to juice it up a little bit."

It's also possible Cox will return to kicking off this week, Banker said, after having that duty taken away and given to Ali Haji-Sheikh for the Rams game.

For Banker, who took over the Redskins special teams chores when Wayne Sevier accepted a job with the San Diego Chargers, it's been a difficult few days. "I've had tougher things in my life," he said, "but this is not a real thrill."

Banker said that during his tenure as an NFL special teams coach, he had never before had a kick blocked in a regular season.

"Chuck feels awful, like I feel awful," Gibbs said.

The special teams did what some thought was the impossible: focus attention on something other than the Redskins' quarterback situation. Doug Williams, who was 24 for 46 for 308 yards, will start against the Giants, Gibbs said. End of quarterback controversy.

Running back George Rogers, who gained only 19 yards on 13 carries and was barely used in the second half, is not losing his job. "George is the guy we'll count on going with," Gibbs said.

Kelvin Bryant ran seven times for 46 yards and caught five passes for 40 yards against the Rams.

"We were running outside plays and Kelvin was running better outside than I was," Rogers said yesterday. "The way Kelvin was playing, he gave us a spark that we needed. I didn't do that."

Asked if he is concerned about the way he is playing, Rogers said, "No, not really. Some of it is my fault, some of it isn't. Things just aren't going our way in the running game right now."

Things did not go the Redskins' way for a good portion of Monday night's game. The Rams led, 30-19, with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, and while the Redskins made most of the right moves to win the game at the end, they were finally done in when a 14-yard pass to Art Monk went off his hands and was intercepted in the end zone by cornerback LeRoy Irvin with 24 seconds remaining.

Monk also was the end zone target the previous play but dropped the ball as he was hit. He and Gary Clark had several other drops, and while Monk did catch two touchdown passes and set up Washington's other touchdown with a 62-yard reception, he said last night in a WMAL radio interview he was "very disappointed" with his performance. He said he "hasn't felt right" since the end of the players strike last month.

Many other things aren't going the 7-3 Redskins' way right now.

"If this is it, if this is the best we can play, then I think we're looking at a tough long haul," Gibbs said. "If we don't start playing better, we will have a tough time getting into the playoffs and going very far . . . It may be the case that we have too high an opinion of the team."

Gibbs said he started calling timeouts with 3:31 to play because "we felt we could stop them right there {in Rams territory} and get the ball back with more time left." After the first timeout, the Rams made a first down, forcing the Redskins to use their last two timeouts before the two-minute warning. When Washington got the ball back, 70 yards from winning, there was 1:49 left.