The Washington Redskins continue to hold out high hopes for the return of wide receiver Art Monk. Trainer Bubba Tyer said yesterday that Monk can do without arthroscopic knee surgery and has a "good chance" of returning for the playoffs, Jan. 9 or 10.

Monk was fitted with a brace yesterday and will wear it everywhere for the next 10 days to two weeks.

The Redskins, bracing for the final three regular-season games, likely will replace Monk on the active roster with fast-running and fast-talking Clarence Verdin, although they also are expected to re-sign wide receiver Anthony Allen -- who wowed St. Louis with 255 receiving yards during the players' strike.

Verdin is only 5 feet 8, and Allen is only 5-11. The other Redskins wide receivers are approximately the same size -- 5-9 Gary Clark, 5-11 Ricky Sanders and 5-8 Eric Yarber.

So, the ghosts of Alvin Garrett and Virgil Seay are with us. In 1982, Monk broke his foot in the season's finale, and there evolved something called "The Fun Bunch," plus something else: a Super Bowl victory.

Five years later, the scenario is strikingly similar. Quarterbacks coach Jerry Rhome isn't so concerned because, he says, "a lot" of receivers are midgets these days. Cornerbacks can't bump receivers as they used to, so size doesn't matter nearly as much as hands, speed and heart to go over the middle.

Verdin, who had gone on the injured-reserve list Sept. 7 with a hamstring injury, was praised yesterday by assistant coach Dan Henning.

"He's been doing really well in practice, and he just has to transfer it to the field," Henning said. "He's got speed and he catches the medium routes. Yes, he can go over the middle in practice, but we'll find out for sure in the game."

Verdin's other strength (besides his ability to talk 24 hours a day) is the kick return, where he could replace injured running back Keith Griffin. Tyer expects Griffin (strained thigh muscle) to be listed as doubtful for Sunday's game.

Verdin's problem is that he tends to be frail. The hamstring has been a recurring problem. He injured the hamstring and a shoulder on a kickoff return last season while being shoved out of bounds.

There are myriad wide receiver possibilities for the Redskins. After Monk was injured Sunday, Sanders moved into Monk's spot as the wide receiver in motion, and tight end Clint Didier moved into Sanders' spot as the third wide receiver. Team officials believe Sanders could start for any other team, and Didier supposedly has wide receiver speed.

Later this week, the Redskins will decide a couple of other things: whether to play running back Kelvin Bryant (hamstring injury) in passing situations and whether to activate Verdin or Allen in place of Monk. Tyer said Bryant ran at Redskin Park yesterday and might get "limited work" in practice today. Tyer said Bryant likely will be listed as "probable" for Sunday's Dallas game at RFK Stadium, but Coach Joe Gibbs still must decide whether to use him.

Allen, meanwhile, was expected to arrive in town last night. As a replacement player, he caught seven passes for a team-record 255 yards against St. Louis Oct. 4, including an 88-yard touchdown. He was nearly activated for a game against Philadelphia after the strike, but Clark, who had been injured, talked Gibbs into letting him play, instead.

Other than Monk, none of the Redskins' wide receivers have a view from 6 feet. It was the same in 1982 when Monk broke his foot in that season finale and didn't play in the playoffs.

That year, the little guys included Charlie Brown, Alvin Garrett and Virgil Seay, but Henning said, "We were running the ball better back then. But I'll never forget that little guy {Garrett} coming in and playing as well as he did. This is a similar situation, but I think Art will be back for the playoffs."

Doctors became optimistic about Monk's return after looking at exotic pictures of his knee. The procedure is called magnetic resonance imaging, and Tyer said it showed there weren't as many "fibers" torn in the knee as was first feared. Tyer called this "good news," but the Redskins are expected to place Monk on injured-reserve this week. He will be eligible to be activated just before the playoffs.