Two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, quarterback Mark Rypien has tossed his crutches aside and is able to walk gingerly.

But Rypien has all but backed off his previously optimistic predictions about his return. He said the original prognosis that he could practice in four to six weeks and play in about eight probably is correct.

"I tried to be positive when I said four or five weeks," he said. "It's progressing as well as it can, but there was just so much trauma down there."

Rypien still has only limited range of motion and spends alternate days riding a stationary bike, doing resistance exercises and taking electrical stimulation and ice.

"When I get the range of motion back, I think I can go pretty good," he said. "But you work one day and rest one day. The rest day is probably as important as the work because you've got to give it a chance to recover. That's hard because the tendency is to keep going and going."

Rypien was hoping for a return in early November, but it now looks as if Thanksgiving is a more realistic goal. The Redskins play their 10th game on Nov. 18 against New Orleans, then go to Dallas four days later for a Thanksgiving Day date with the Cowboys. The Strong Survive

Defensive tackle Darryl Grant said the Giants "have probably the best offensive line we're going to see this season. They're big and strong and their philosophy is that they can line up and beat you. They're the type of team you love to play because you know the strongest team will win. It won't be a flukey game." . . .

Having come to the Redskins after eight seasons with the Giants, backup quarterback Jeff Rutledge has made many trips to RFK Stadium as a visiting player. He says it's a unique experience "because you're fighting the fans, the team, everything. It's a great place, a great setting, even if you're a visitor. It was always great for us because we knew we'd have to beat the Redskins to win the division. We'd come in there and people would be yelling at us, throwing stuff. It'll be strange looking across the field and seeing a lot of friends and people I've played with."

Rutledge will be activated off injured reserve, but Coach Joe Gibbs said not until "the last minute." The deadline is 4 p.m. Saturday.