With tight ends Jimmie Johnson and John Brandes slowed by pinched nerves in their necks, the Redskins yesterday released offensive lineman Scott Beavers and re-signed tight end Ken Whisenhunt.

Beavers was signed last week when the Redskins feared they might not have enough offensive linemen for practice. Since then, Russ Grimm, Mark May and Ray Brown have returned to work, and Tim Moxley was signed for the practice squad.

Washington signed Whisenhunt as a Plan B free agent in 1989 and he spent all last season on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a stress fracture in his leg. He was let go in the final cut to 47 players this fall, spent a week with the Raiders and has been working out in Atlanta since then.

"We were looking for someone who could help us the most here down the stretch," Coach Joe Gibbs. "We've got two guys with pinched nerves in their necks, and I was a little concerned. In the game this weekend, we could have lost a couple of packages if anyone had gone down. John Brandes couldn't play that much and we're on the verge with Jimmie Johnson.

"Ken is a guy that we can bring back, and he can play right now. He's a smart guy and can help us on special teams. He's more important than having an extra lineman."

Johnson and Brandes will play in Saturday night's game against the Indianapolis Colts in the Hoosier Dome, but Whisenhunt will be active too.

"Jimmie will be able to play, but he hasn't been taking as much work," Gibbs said. "It makes it tough to play and play well if you can't get the work in practice."

Whisenhunt said he hadn't expected to hear from any team this late in the season and had begun preparing for next spring's Plan B tryouts.

"I'm real happy," he said. "This is like an early Christmas present. I know the system here and will be able to come in and help out."

He was slowed by a sore knee in training camp but almost made the team anyway, losing out to Terry Orr in the final cut. Orr since has been let go.

Whisenhunt played four seasons (1985-88) with the Falcons and caught 56 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns. Beavers had been claimed off waivers from the Denver Broncos last week and was on the two-man inactive list for last week's game at New England. Missed Practices

Brian Mitchell, Darryl Grant and Ricky Sanders missed yesterday's brief practice, but all are expected to be back today. Mitchell flew to his home in Louisiana to be with his father, who suffered a heart attack. . . . This weekend's game is the second for the Redskins indoors this season; they won in the Pontiac Silverdome in Week 9. Since Gibbs arrived in 1981, they're 9-1 indoors, their only loss coming in the Astrodome in 1988.