CARLISLE, PA., AUG. 9 -- The Washington Redskins pushed toward their first preseason game today by getting another bit of discouraging news from a position that has already caused them a migraine or two -- cornerback.

It was learned this afternoon that Brian Davis, out eight days with a pulled right thigh muscle, has left camp to visit a St. Louis specialist.

The veteran cornerback has suffered muscle pulls in that part of his leg before and is concerned "about getting it well, getting back on the field and then reinjuring it," trainer Bubba Tyer said. "He wants to see if there's anything more."

NFL rules allow players to seek second opinions on medical decisions, and Davis is doing that. Team officials believe he'll be told what he was told by the Redskins -- that he has a soft tissue tear that will take a while to heal.

Meanwhile, as the Redskins continued to prepare for Saturday night's preseason opener against the Atlanta Falcons in Chapel Hill, N.C., there were several other developments. Among them:

Linebacker Ravin Caldwell appears on the verge of signing a three-year contract. He's definitely out of Saturday's game, and even if he agrees to terms as expected this weekend, he'll report on Sunday.

Defensive end Markus Koch, who has practiced only twice since ending a 10-day holdout, will be shoved right into the starting lineup at right end against the Falcons.

"Well, he's supposed to be ready, right?" line coach Torgy Torgeson said.

Rookie quarterback Cary Conklin continued to improve from an injury to his right knee. He ran a few plays today, and although Mark Rypien and Stan Humphries may take all the snaps against the Falcons, the Redskins are hopeful Conklin will be able to avoid surgery.

Davis's injury has frustrated him and team officials for several reasons, especially the fact that he annually reports in perhaps the best physical shape of anyone. He's both a weightlifting fanatic and a distance runner, and when he's healthy, the Redskins believe he could give them a top quality corner to play opposite Darrell Green.

But he pulled the same muscle in 1988, and just when it looked as if his problems were behind him, it's happened all over again.

"He's had a run of bad luck," Tyer said, "and I'm sure it's frustrating to him."

His injury has left the Redskins thin at cornerback. With Green and Martin Mayhew starting, the Redskins will get a long look at veteran Wayne Davis, veteran free agent Roy Bennett and rookie free agent Alvoid Mays on Saturday.

Casserly has been phoning around seeking help at the position, but said he has had no serious discussions with anyone. Several veteran cornerbacks are holding out and Casserly apparently has checked into the possibility of acquiring one of them. The group includes Cleveland's Frank Minnifield, Houston's Patrick Allen, Tampa Bay's Ricky Reynolds and Kansas City's Kevin Ross.

He has made no progress in getting any and tonight doubted a trade could be done. Such evaluations can change minute to minute, especially depending on how quickly Davis can return and how well Bennett, Mays and others play Saturday.

As for Caldwell, he wasn't available for comment tonight, but his agent, Steve Weinberg, was awaiting word on whether or not Caldwell would accept the latest offer on the table.

Sources indicated Caldwell was leaning toward accepting a deal that would pay him about $900,000 over three years.

His signing would leave only one holdout -- veteran defensive tackle Darryl Grant.

Grant, who is acting as his own agent, is believed to be seeking a three-year contract worth about $2.4 million. The Redskins are offering about $200,000 a season less.

Grant may believe he's worth that since he has played nine years and his salary was a relatively small $347,500 last season. The Redskins also signed Plan B free agent Jumpy Geathers to a three-year, $1.5 million deal, and Geathers is recovering from reconstructive knee surgery and may not play until midseason.

Grant's leverage hasn't been hurt by injuries in the defensive line, and having already been through nine Redskins preseason camps, he probably would not need as much time to get ready for the regular season.

And then there's Koch. He strolled onto the practice field Wednesday night, just back from a sailing vacation to Canada. He shook a few hands, nodded all around and said he was happy to be back.

Asked how his teammates welcomed him, he said, "Well, they said hello mostly."

He also said he was ready to play and will be joined by Charles Mann at left end, Plan B signee Milford Hodge at left tackle and rookie Kent Wells at right tackle. Mann will play only briefly, which will leave plenty of playing time for Torgeson's two substitutes -- veteran free agent Alonzo Mitz and Pat Swoopes, a Plan B signee.

Torgeson was smiling at the thought of having two substitutes, something that appeared unlikely a couple of days ago. He'll be without right end Fred Stokes (sore shoulder) and left tackle Tracy Rocker (strained biceps tendon), but the news was better on Stokes, who asked Tyer to clear him to resume practice on Monday.

"He's better," Tyer said, "but we may give it a couple more days. Re-injury is something you worry about with something like that."