The Washington Redskins said goodbye to five more players yesterday, but with the NFL changing its rule book every day or so, it's unclear how long they'll be gone.

The door could open for some of this week's cuts to return if the NFL, as expected, reinstates the developmental squads, axed a month ago after its $1,000-a-week pay scale was challenged in court.

The Redskins are among several organizations strongly in favor of the developmental teams, which allowed seven players who'd cleared waivers to return and practice with their teams. "There's a strong sentiment for it," a league spokesman said.

Several NFL sources have said the developmental squads, similar to the "taxi" squads of yesteryear, are again under consideration and a decision could be made as early as this week. One source said the units would have four, five or six players if they're reinstated.

Some teams have told a few of their cuts to stand by for a call later in the week. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will comment on the matter during a conference call with reporters today.

The lawsuit, filed by several players and underwritten by the NFL Players Association, claimed that the pay scale was illegal since players weren't allowed to bargain for a salary. The $1,000-a-week wage was lower than the NFL minimum salary of $50,000 a year.

The Redskins haven't discussed the squads since they still don't exist, but indications are that rookies Kent Wells, Thomas Rayam and Tim Moxley would all be serious candidates. Harbour, Bonner Go

As expected, the Redskins got down to the mandatory 60-man roster by placing three players on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and cutting five. The five released included one Redskins veteran, center Dave Harbour, signed to be a long snapper late in training camp last year. Plan B free agent John Brandes has taken over that duty and also plays tight end and special teams.

Other cuts included Moxley, a free agent offensive lineman who earned high marks, and NFL-experienced running back Reggie Dupard and linebacker Chris Dunn.

The only surprise was linebacker Brian Bonner, who has a sprained knee and received a settlement on his contract.

The three players placed on the PUP list are cornerback A.J. Johnson (knee), defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers (knee) and offensive lineman Mark May (knee). Johnson probably is out for the season, but Geathers and May are expected to play.

Players on the PUP list must miss at least four weeks. They can then practice for the remainder of the season. If they're activated in the fifth or sixth week, it doesn't count as one of a team's five in-season moves.

Teams are required to get to 47 players this coming Monday. But there aren't likely to be 13 cuts. Four players may be headed for injured reserve: quarterback Cary Conklin (knee), offensive tackles Mo Elewonibi (shoulder) and Ray Brown (knee) and safety Clarence Vaughn (shoulder). . . .

The only surprising move was Monday's release of Wells, a sixth-round draft pick who started the first two preseason games. Wells said he hopes to return if the developmental squads are reinstated.

"It was a shock," Wells said from his home in Lincoln, Neb. "I thought the Cleveland game {last weekend} was my best game, but I realize this is part of the business. I'm really hoping the developmental squads will be back. I still want to give it a go in the NFL."

Wells was in for more plays than anyone the first month of camp when the Redskins were so short on defensive linemen. "When we got more bodies in camp, I got fresher and felt like I played better," he said. Stokes Builds Strength

Defensive end Fred Stokes will continue his strength therapy and be held out of Friday's preseason game here against the Los Angeles Rams. Next week he'll return to practice, and if his shoulder holds up, he'll make his debut in the season opener against Phoenix on Sept. 9. The shoulder has twice popped out of place -- or given Stokes that sensation. He returned once after doing strength work and lasted two practices. Exams revealed no serious damage and now he has done another 2 1/2 weeks of work.

"My feeling is he's going to be okay," Redskins trainer Bubba Tyer said. "He said it's twice as good as before."