After spending a week throwing passes to assistant trainer Kevin Bastin, Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien yesterday resumed throwing passes to Gary Clark, Art Monk and Ricky Sanders.

He came away feeling good about his first full practice since injuring his left knee a little more than seven weeks ago. He reported no problems with his knee, his new knee brace or his arm. He even remembered the signals the Redskins use to relay their plays from the sideline to the huddle, although he spent a while deciphering wig-wags from Jeff Rutledge and Cary Conklin just to be sure.

"Unless something drastic happens the next few days," Rypien said, "there's no doubt I'll be able to go on Sunday" here against New Orleans.

Coach Joe Gibbs indicated much the same thing, but he remained uncertain about who would be Rypien's backup. Rutledge's bruised right (throwing) thumb continued to improve, and he did throw a few passes but he did not take any snaps because he and the training staff did not want to risk renewed irritation.

"I probably could have" taken snaps, Rutledge said. "I feel like I'll be ready. {The thumb} still doesn't look too good, but it's not like it was."

Gary Hogeboom led the scout team offense, as the Redskins' No. 2 quarterback normally does, but he did not work with the first-team offense because Gibbs liked what he saw from Rypien and wanted to give him as much work as possible.

"I think Jeff did better than I thought he was going to be able to do," Gibbs said after watching Rutledge spiral the ball quite effectively in passing drills. "But what I'm going to do is wait until the end of the week and see how he feels. Then I'll make a decision on that."

As for Rypien, Gibbs said: "I was kind of curious about how he would look, but he looked very good. So we just let him take the work. I think he feels good. I asked him, 'Do you feel anything at all that's in the least bit bothering you?' and he said, 'No.'."

Other than the brace, which he said he probably would wear for the rest of his career, Rypien said he attacked yesterday's workout with as much abandon as he could muster.

"I said I wasn't going to look back on anything, that I was going to give it my best shot and test it," he said. "When I did some strides and throwing, I didn't want to hold back on anything . . . For the most part, my biggest concern was how the timing would be."

Rypien said Bastin has "pretty good speed," but still, trying to complete post patterns with the Posse has a little different rhythm to it.

"I was nervous I'd come out here and wouldn't complete one," Rypien said. "After not being around for a while, you figure you might come out here and not hit a pass all day. But once you get into it, you just kind of get into the flow of things."

And for the most part things went well. There were a few tosses that left Rypien shaking his head in disgust, but there were some fine-looking plays and a couple of near-connections on long passes that would have been spectacular. "He looked real sharp," Sanders said. "He had a lot of zip on the ball. He didn't look rusty. Balls came in hard. There will be no problems with him playing on Sunday with the way he looked today."

That's the way Rypien wants it, particularly from a physical standpoint. The brace was something of a concession, but he didn't need much prodding to strap it on.

"It only takes about one or two hits and you can talk yourself into" wearing it, he said. "Besides, it's not like it's going to affect my speed at all.

"If it in any way affected my range of motion or my ability to move around, then I would probably think otherwise {about wearing it}, but it doesn't at all and it's only for my best interest. Why I don't wear one on the other {knee}, I'll never know."

Gibbs said the quality of Rypien's performance yesterday did not surprise him.

"He did real hard work last week," Gibbs said. "You kind of like for a guy to be champing at the bit before bringing him back. I kind of felt like he was doing that at the beginning of last week. . . . So I felt that he was due to get back. It was just that I didn't dream that it would be under this set of circumstances."

Rypien said they are not circumstances under which he would have preferred to return, but then again, if he was going to return at all this season, it probably was not going to be for positive reasons.

"But the reason that I wouldn't get my job back I think would put a smile on my face," Rypien said. "We'd be heading ourselves toward the playoffs. Of course, everyone wants to play, but if someone's playing well ahead of you and things are going the way you'd like them to go that would be the plus side. We'd be winning."