Not that the Washington Redskins ever needed to be convinced of Lawrence Taylor's greatness. Nearly everyone in the NFL can point to this day or that play, but the Redskins always will remember a couple days in 1986 when No. 56's legend became almost larger than life.

Taylor sacked quarterback Jay Schroeder six times in the regular season, getting him three times in the first game and three in the second.

The Redskins believe it was no coincidence that Schroeder also threw six interceptions in the second game, and that he was never quite as good after spending those afternoons with Taylor and the Giants.

Taylor said the same thing in his autobiography, adding that no team was quite as much fun to play against as the Redskins.

As the Giants and Redskins prepare to resume one of the NFL's best rivalries Sunday afternoon at RFK Stadium, the Redskins again have a new starting quarterback.

Stan Humphries, coming off a 20-for-25 performance in Phoenix, will get Taylor and the Giants in the second start of his career. Welcome to the NFL, Stan.

If Humphries was nervous about Taylor, he didn't show it yesterday, saying all the right things about the Giants linebacker being an important player, but that it was important not to be obsessed by him. Humphries said he respected him, yes, but that Taylor wasn't dominating the conversation at Redskin Park this week.

"It'll be a test," Humphries said. "In some of your schemes, you have to be aware of where he lines up if you have an audible or something. But if you worry too much about where he is, it takes away from your game. When you play other teams, they have special people that you have to be aware of. On some plays, you may have to double-team him on protection. But you can't worry too much about one player."

The Redskins this week are confronted with many problems as they prepare to play an undefeated team that's big and strong and takes pride in whipping teams at the line of scrimmage.

Quarterback Phil Simms might be having his best season, Dave Meggett is perhaps the NFL's best return man and third-down specialist, and rookie running back Rodney Hampton has provided a flashy new dimension.

"No one in the NFL is playing better than the Giants," Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said. "We've spent a lot of time looking at the films and there just doesn't seem to be a weakness. It's easy to see why they have not lost."

There's also the matter of history. The Giants have beaten the Redskins in seven of their last eight nonstrike matchups, including the last four.

The last three games have been decided by a total of seven points, and the Redskins admit that when the Giants have needed a first down or a big play, they have gotten it.

But no Giant will take up as much of the Redskins' time this week as Taylor, the 6-foot-3, 243-pound superman who is a combination linebacker, defensive end and safety. He's fast enough to cover receivers and strong enough to take on tackles and tight ends.

"You hear people say we want a Lawrence Taylor-type," Redskins linebacker Wilber Marshall said. "Where do you find those guys? He's an exceptional athlete."

The Redskins this week have outfitted tight end Terry Orr in a blue jersey with No. 56 on it. If it has made Orr easier to spot at practice, that's good preparation for Sunday, when the Redskins will notice Taylor anyway.

The guys who are assigned to block Taylor -- especially left tackle Jim Lachey -- definitely are taking note.

"There are just so many things about him," said Redskins tackle Joe Jacoby, who has had many one-on-one afternoons with Taylor. "Any team that's preparing for the Giants has to prepare their game plan around him because he's so good, so disruptive on both the run and the pass. You have to concentrate on where he's going to be on the field.

"He's the ultimate player as far as a pass rusher and a linebacker. His motor is nonstop. He comes 110 percent every play. It doesn't matter who's blocking him. It could be an offensive lineman or a tight end. You can double-{team} him and he's still going to find a way to get to the quarterback or the ball carrier. That's another thing. He's going to make some big plays, but you have to keep going. We have to find a way to block him."

Since 1986 the Redskins have done a decent job of containing Taylor. At least, he hasn't had any more three-sack games.

In 1988 Taylor missed the first meeting while serving a suspension for drug use. He was back in time to play the second game and had two tackles and two sacks.

On the Redskins' first possession, he jarred quarterback Mark Rypien from the ball. Harry Carson recovered and the Giants drove five yards to put Paul McFadden in position for a 32-yard field goal.

Last year Lachey went head to head with Taylor and pretty much neutralized him. Except . . . Taylor had six tackles and forced a fumble in the first game.

That fumble was a big one because it came in the first quarter after Alvin Walton had intercepted a Simms pass and the Redskins were at the New York 27 when Taylor separated Gerald Riggs from the ball. The Giants drove 72 yards in seven plays for a 7-0 lead.

Lachey might have won the second meeting because Taylor had, statistically, his worst game -- three tackles and a pass deflection.

"Somebody has to do it every week and this week it's my turn," Lachey said. "It's fun to play against great players. You just ask for an opportunity to play against a great one, and he definitely qualifies. He's a great defensive player. He's fast, strong, quick and extremely smart. He's seen a lot of things and he knows how to play the game. He's the leader of that defense."

Lachey said the best way to play Taylor is to keep him out of gambling situations. "If your offense is moving the ball, keeping you out of tough situations, that helps," he said. "The worst scenario is to get behind early where you have to do a lot of passing. If you have a balanced attack and can move the ball, you have a chance. You've got to have good technique and work as hard as he does. If he sees something that looks funny or where he'll have an opportunity, he'll take it."

But Gibbs has told his players that Taylor is one of several outstanding defenders and that if they think only of Taylor, they will forget Leonard Marshall, Pepper Johnson, Carl Banks and others.

"Lawrence is different because there's so many things they can do with him," Gibbs said. "But their linebackers and defensive front are all good. They're so good their secondary can play soft and force you to take the underneath stuff. It's all tied together, and what you have is a great defensive team. It'll be a good test for Stan -- for all of us."