CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 8 -- He quotes Hunter S. Thompson, wears a ponytail and once gave up football to build and repair homes. The Washington Redskins have never quite known what to make of Markus Koch, and from the moment his holdout began 10 days ago they knew it might not be the typical training-camp contract dispute.

But when it was resolved this afternoon with his signing of a three-year contract believed to be worth a total of $1.1 million, they could not have been happier.

Koch brings immediate and quality relief to an area where the Redskins need it most. They are down to five healthy bodies in the defensive line and are so banged up that only one projected starter -- Pro Bowl end Charles Mann -- will be in the lineup for Saturday night's preseason opener against Atlanta in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Left tackle Tracy Rocker (strained biceps tendon) and right end Fred Stokes (sore shoulder) are out with injuries, and right tackle Darryl Grant is in the 11th day of a holdout that has no end in sight.

That leaves Mann lining up alongside a rookie taken in the sixth round (Kent Wells) and a pair of Plan B signees whose performances will be watched very closely (Milford Hodge and Pat Swoopes). Veteran free agent Alonzo Mitz, released by Seattle, and another rookie, 10th-round pick Thomas Rayam, join Koch as the only reserves.

Koch's signing leaves the Redskins with only two holdouts -- Grant and linebacker Ravin Caldwell.

At least until Grant arrives, the Redskins won't get a look at their full defensive line and today it was learned they've been phoning around asking other teams about the availability of defensive linemen.

General Manager Charley Casserly also confirmed a report in the Washington Times that he had talked to the Cleveland Browns about a deal for holdout cornerback Frank Minnifield.

The Browns have been offering Minnifield around the league, and over the weekend apparently had worked out a deal with the Atlanta Falcons for guard Bill Fralic or tackle Chris Hinton. That fell through when the Falcons were unwilling to meet Minnifield's asking price of $3.6 million over three years.

Casserly said the Browns asked if he was interested, but that negotiations got only as far as a couple of telephone calls to Minnifield's agent, former Colt Stan White.

"I told him his asking price was out of our ballpark, and that was it," Casserly said. "Nothing is going to happen between us and Cleveland on that."

The Redskins angrily denied a report in USA Today that they had offered veteran tackle Joe Jacoby for Minnifield. "We never offered any players," Casserly said. "We never made any kind of an offer."

Gibbs spoke to Jacoby about the report, then told reporters: "That was irresponsible. That's like gossip. I would think that if that had happened someone would have said something to me. Are there things thrown around? Do people call about those guys? Yes. But that's a lot of hot air and I'm sorry Joe's wife and family had to read about it."

The discussions for Minnifield point up how thin the Redskins believe they are at cornerback, where they have only three proven commodities -- starters Darrell Green and Martin Mayhew and backup Brian Davis, who is out with a pulled quadriceps muscle.

Five players started at cornerback last year, and A.J. Johnson, who probably would have started opposite Green this year, is out for the season after reconstructive knee surgery.

As for Koch, he is expected to compete with Stokes for the starting right defensive end position. It is possible that Koch will play on running downs and Stokes, a better pass rusher, on passing downs.

However, given the uncertainty of Grant's status, there could be several shuffles of personnel over the next few weeks.

"It was time to go to work," said Koch, who drove to camp from near Toronto, where he had been on a sailing vacation. "There was some give on this side and give on that side, and we got the deal done."

He said he had only picked up a newspaper this morning, and to his surprise discovered that "everyone is hurt. I really hadn't been keeping up."

He said he decided to report on Tuesday morning and a final bit of negotiating between his agent, Marvin Demoff, and Casserly finished the deal Wednesday afternoon.

"It's tough to hold out and not be around the other guys," Koch said. "I think they were somewhat surprised to see me. When someone is going through misery, it's always nice to find someone to join you and share the pain. I don't think I'm that far behind. There are still two weeks of training camp and four preseason games to go. That's enough time to get caught up."

Having once walked out of camp for 10 days to become a full-time carpenter, Koch was pressed on whether the dispute was over money or if he simply wanted to avoid the drudgery of two-a-days.

"No, it was a matter of getting the contract done," he said. "It's unfortunate my contract was up at this time, because that job {right end} is open and I want to start there. We reached our goals in negotiations and that was it. We were not asking for anything unreasonable. We did what we set out to do. I think the Redskins were being reasonable. Any time there's this kind of money being discussed, you're not going to throw it away. Training camp isn't fun. But it's something you need to do."

Koch was in uniform for tonight's practice at Carlisle High and Gibbs said he would play against the Falcons.

"We need his fresh legs," Gibbs said, "and Torgy {Torgeson, line coach} put him right in there."

Asked about Koch's new haircut, Gibbs smiled the smile of a strict father watching a rebellious son grow up.

"Markus is a little different guy," he said. "I'll say that. We don't count on Markus for our dress codes."

It appears that Caldwell may be closer to coming to camp. He is seeking a $300,000 base salary this season and the Redskins offered $225,000. Casserly said the two sides spoke again today, and, while there was no apparent progress, one source believed that Caldwell may be close to reporting.

It is different with Grant. The two sides still are about $200,000 a year apart, and after nine years, Grant surely feels that missing another couple of weeks of camp won't hurt him.