Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green wore shoulder pads and uniform to practice yesterday and, although he simply jogged and watched the workout, he gave the Redskins hope he might be able to play Sunday.

"He's doing better," head trainer Bubba Tyer said at Redskin Park. "He'll probably do more {Friday}. I'm encouraged."

Tyer said there was "a good chance" of Green participating in some defensive drills today. If he does that, Tyer said he likely would upgrade Green from questionable (50 percent chance of playing) to probable (75 percent chance of playing).

Green, selected to play in the Pro Bowl for the third time in his five seasons, sprained rib cartilage in the Redskins' 21-17 victory over Chicago. The Redskins will play Minnesota at 12:30 p.m. Sunday in the NFC championship game at RFK Stadium.

"I worked out today and felt much better," Green said in a prepared statement released by the team. "There is still some soreness. I expect to make a decision about Sunday's game at the end of the week."

"It's an improvement," said Coach Joe Gibbs, adding Green might not know if, or how much, he will be able to play until he warms up on the field before the game.

Emmitt Thomas, assistant coach for the defensive backs, said he now is "much more optimistic" about Green's chances of playing.

"I sure hope {he can play}," Thomas said. "He was quite active out there at practice today. He feels a lot better."

Rookie Brian Davis practiced in Green's place at Redskin Park and will start if Green cannot. The Redskins are staying mum about which cornerback -- Davis or Barry Wilburn -- would cover Vikings wide receiver Anthony Carter. It's also possible the Redskins could double-cover Carter or even try a zone defense, although they discarded that idea a month ago against Miami quarterback Dan Marino and his potent passing attack.

Carter caught 16 passes for 306 yards in the Vikings' upset playoff victories over New Orleans and San Francisco.

What Davis thinks of this, no one knows. For the second day in a row, he declined interviews.

"I haven't been around long enough to talk about this," he said yesterday.

Defensive lineman Markus Koch, who has been given an increasingly significant role in the Redskins' pass rush, missed practice with the flu, Tyer said. The Redskins expect Koch to be fine by the weekend, however.

For the second consecutive day, the Redskins practiced on their artificial turf field, but at least they now can see the grass on the natural turf field next to it. Six inches of snow were removed from the grass field yesterday, but it still is frozen solid.

If the temperature rises, the team might be able to practice on the grass today or Saturday. If not, that means they will not have practiced or played on natural turf for about two weeks before playing on RFK's natural surface Sunday.

"We searched and searched and searched for a grass field we could use in the area, but the only other one is RFK," Gibbs said, smiling. "The Vikings did the same thing. They are searching for a grass field to practice on Saturday and can't find one, either."

Playoffs Notes:

The National Weather Service's weekend forecast calls for partly cloudy skies and temperatures ranging from the low 30s to the mid 50s. Winds are predicted to be in the 10- to 15-mph range . . .

The Vikings, who have practiced in Tampa, Fla., the past two days, will leave for Washington Friday and plan to practice Saturday at RFK Stadium . . .

Minnesota running back Darrin Nelson missed practice yesterday with a touch of the flu, but is expected to start against the Redskins.