Washington Redskins quarterbacks coach Rod Dowhower remembers a day about four weeks ago when Gary Hogeboom's name came up at Redskin Park. It was just after NFL teams had completed their final roster cutdowns, and Hogeboom had been released by the Phoenix Cardinals.

"We were asked about certain players, just in case," Dowhower said yesterday. "Charley {Casserly, the Redskins' general manager} said Gary was one of the people we ought to be thinking about, so I told him about my experience with" Hogeboom.

Dowhower had good things to say then, and he had good things to say yesterday, when the Redskins signed the 32-year-old Hogeboom because starting quarterback Mark Rypien sprained his left knee in Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

"He's very bright, a high-energy guy who has good leadership qualities," said Dowhower, who was coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 1986, when they acquired Hogeboom in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys.

"It's tough to walk into a situation like the one we have. But with his experience and his attitude as I've known it, he has a chance to be an effective player if we need him."

Hogeboom was en route to Washington late last night and could not be reached for comment.

"What we need right now is the person who has the best chance of immediately knowing our system, is healthy and could jump in this week and bail us out," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We went over every single aspect and I think this {signing Hogeboom} is the best shot for us."

The Redskins' decision came as no surprise to Cardinals Coach Joe Bugel.

"It was the logical choice," Bugel said. "He's a veteran quarterback and Joe Gibbs feels comfortable with veteran quarterbacks. And we use a system that is similar to the Redskins' ".

Gibbs said the Cardinals' offense is more than similar to the Redskins'. "It's exactly the same," he said, "terminology-wise and everything."

Nevertheless, Dowhower said he will meet with Hogeboom early this morning -- today normally is an off day for the players -- just to be sure.

"We want to find out exactly where we stand before we launch into a game plan," Dowhower said.

Jim Shofner said that should be no problem.

"He's very smart," said Shofner, who coached Hogeboom last season as a member of the Cardinals' staff and from 1983 to '85 as a member of the Cowboys'. "But his leadership abilities and competitiveness are the greatest things about about him. I just think he's a strong character person.

"I remember last year when we played Atlanta, a fight broke out -- I think between a running back and a linebacker. Gary jumped right into the fray and he got hit hard with a fist. By the time he reached the sideline, the point of his chin had puffed up so he looked like Dick Tracy. I said, 'Why did you have to do that?' And he said, 'My teammates love that. I have to do that.' And, you know, he was kind of right."

When it comes to Hogeboom's more traditional football skills, Shofner, now a coach with the Cleveland Browns, said: "When he was young, he had an extremely strong arm. But now he doesn't have as strong an arm, and as a result, he's probably become a better quarterback. He doesn't force things as much as he did a few years ago. I think he's a good quarterback. He did a good job for us in Phoenix."

But last year, like so many other years, Hogeboom had problems with an injury. Through five games last season, he had completed 100 of 169 passes for 1,341 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a performance against the Redskins in which he was 20 of 35 for 296 yards and three touchdowns. But then he hurt his elbow. Late in the season, after beginning another game against the Redskins by going eight for 11 for 131 yards, he dislocated the index finger on his throwing hand.

In 1987 he sustained a detached ligament at the base of his thumb, came back, sustained a cracked rib and a punctured lung, came back, and sustained a dislocated shoulder. In 1986 a separated shoulder sidelined him for 11 weeks.

"The guy is physically tough," Dowhower said. "He's also mentally tough. He's had his ups and downs in this league. But he's a good guy. The players that I've seen have respect for him. I don't think fitting in will be a problem for him at all."