On the subject of Art Monk's hands, the Washington Redskins are taking a hands-off approach.

Monk dropped consecutive passes that could have gone for touchdowns late in the Redskins' 30-26 loss to the Los Angeles Rams Monday night, but the coaches didn't make him run extra laps yesterday. There were no pep talks, either, because it obviously wouldn't have made a difference.

"Art's not exactly a peppy guy," said Monk's good friend Rick Walker, a former teammate. "The other night, we threw him a surprise party for his 30th birthday, and that's the first I've seen him excited in a while. He'd make a perfect coach."

Monk again declined comment yesterday, but -- to be fair about it -- he likely wouldn't have talked had he made those catches. The old saying goes, "Don't get too high when you win or too low when you lose," and that about fits Monk.

"Things like this happen to great players," said Charley Taylor, former Redskins great and current receivers coach. "I, myself, expect Art, and I'm sure Art expects himself, to make catches like that. But is it the end of the world?

"I'm sure Art's eating himself out inside right now, but you've got to realize nobody's perfect. I think Raymond Berry dropped a few balls . . . I think Charlie Joiner dropped a few. I think Steve Largent dropped a few. So they're human, you know?"

Monk did say on a WMAL radio broadcast that he "hasn't felt right" since the conclusion of the players' strike. Asked about that yesterday, Monk said he'd rather not elaborate.

In the meantime, running back George Rogers did a lot of elaborating on his problems. If Monk was Monday's goat, Rogers finished a close second, what with 19 yards rushing on 13 attempts.

"I don't think I'm contributing right now, and I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's me not playing the right way or running to the right holes. I don't know.

"I don't remember the last time I broke a good run or broke some tackles."

Considering the Redskins rushed for only 145 yards in three games against the New York Giants last year, Sunday would be a great time to start. Last year, the Giants played an "umbrella" zone against the Redskins, daring them to run and throw short passes. And when the Redskins couldn't run, they were doomed.

"We keep telling our people that this is a time of year you better be able to move the football," said assistant coach Joe Bugel, who's in charge of the offensive line. "If you expect to get in the playoffs, you'll play someplace cold. And you better be able to move the ball in 50 mph winds."

As for Rogers, Bugel said: "George, he's the type of guy that we've got to get rolling. He needs to be in there and run four or five times in a row to get warmed up."

Rogers still trails replacement player Lionel Vital for the team lead in rushing (346 to 300), but he did have a 125-yard game against Buffalo four weeks ago.

"But other than {the Buffalo game}, we've had a new left guard every week," Bugel said.

Coach Joe Gibbs said he continues to be impressed with reserve Kelvin Bryant, but Rogers -- who has been bothered by shoulder, toe and groin injuries this season -- will start Sunday.

Speaking of Sunday, Taylor said: "By 4:15 p.m. against the Giants {the game starts at 4}, Monk's problems will be over."

In fact, this entire Redskins organization has rushed to the defense of Monk, who is tied for 12th in the NFC with 27 catches this season.

Bobby Beathard, general manager: "Art Monk is certainly not one of our big concerns right now. There are others to worry about."

Middle linebacker Neal Olkewicz: "It's amazing how people can turn on somebody . . . "

Linebacker Mel Kaufman: "You learn in this game that fans and people in general -- their memories are short. Players, too, for that matter. Art has done so much for this team for so many years, and he drops two passes, and now everyone's thinking what's wrong. That's the wrong attitude."

Guard R.C. Thielemann: "I feel terrible for Art. Those would've been spectacular catches if he'd caught them. He didn't catch them, so everyone thinks he's a bum. It's ludicrous. Like I've said, when you're losing, everyone's an analyst."

And one thing to analyze is why Monk was wearing gloves Monday night. It was 50 degrees at RFK Stadium.

"Ah, those guys do it from day one," Taylor said. "They don't just put those gloves on one day and take them off the next. They use them all the time, so I'm sure Art was accustomed to them."