Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs met with wide receiver Walter Stanley and quarterback Stan Humphries yesterday to explain that the club is unable to bring either of them off injured reserve soon.

Humphries and Stanley are stranded because the Redskins have used three of their five free roster moves. They've reserved one of the remaining two for running back Gerald Riggs and are fearful of using the other in case an injury would force another move in the next two games. After the five free moves, players must clear waivers -- risky at best -- in order to be activated.

Teams get one extra free move for each week they are in the playoffs. Nevertheless, when the Redskins do decide to use their final regular season move, they likely will use it on Stanley, who's primarily a return man and would play more than Humphries.

"I know they want to play," Gibbs said, "but right now they've got to wait it out."

The first three moves were used to bring quarterbacks Jeff Rutledge and Mark Rypien off injured reserve and cornerback A.J. Johnson off the physically unable to perform list. Stanley (knee) and Humphries (knee) were injured Nov. 12 against Philadelphia and have spent the required four weeks on IR.

In retrospect, the Redskins would have an extra move if they hadn't placed Rutledge on IR before Game 1. Gibbs said he'd second-guessed himself on that one, but added, "I felt like that was a good move at the time, that he needed the time to get his shoulder better."

Neither Stanley nor Humphries is very happy, although both seem to understand.

"I'm ready to go," Stanley said. "This week has been good for me in terms of getting my confidence back and cutting on my knee. I've really pushed it and it has felt great. That's the final test for me. I could play a game as quickly as Saturday if it came to that."

He'd never been hurt in his previous five pro seasons and said the experience "was one of the toughest parts of my life, to sit up there and watch. I'm so accustomed to being out there and being in the flow and part of the game. When you sit on the sideline, it kills you."

Once Upon a Time . . .

The Redskins know they're supposed to beat the 1-12 Patriots on Saturday, and Gibbs has warned his team all week about the dangers of not being emotionally ready to play. Yesterday he told them what happened when he was offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1974.

"It's amazing what can happen to you," Gibbs said. "We had two games left and only had to win one of our last two to clinch our division. . . . We go to New Orleans, and our guys went out to eat with their guys and came back and said they have no audibles, they've packed it in, their cars are running, they hate their coaches. We went out the next day and got beat, 14-0. It was the only time the Cardinals were shut out under Don Coryell. The Saints knocked us from one end of that place to the other, were running around high-fiving and looked like they were playing for a championship. We come back the next week and are down 14-0 to the Giants at halftime and were booed all the way to the locker room. We came back and won it, 26-14. That's an example of what can happen to you. No one had more riding on something than the Cardinals. We wanted that so bad we could taste it."