For several weeks, there was much speculation on how the Washington Redskins would use the final two of their five allotted "free moves" for activating players off the injured reserve list. If yesterday's 29-14 victory over the Buffalo Bills at RFK Stadium was any indication, the Redskins used the moves well.

Running Gerald Riggs, who missed six weeks with a sprained arch, gained 67 yards on 16 carries and scored on a three-yard run with 6:17 left to put the game out of reach, 22-7. Defensive tackle Tracy Rocker, whose eight-week banishment to the injured list was more a result of the team being disappointed in his play than an injury, had two sacks.

Both performances were the best things to come out of a game that had little meaning other than to finish the season and maybe generate some momentum going into the playoffs. Riggs and Rocker now give depth to positions that concerned the Redskins as they looked toward this weekend's wild-card playoff game at Philadelphia.

"Gerald ran hard and Tracy used that {inactive} time the right way. He came back a better football player," said Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs. "We wanted to use Gerald a lot because if Earnest {Byner} needs a blow next week, I wanted Gerald to have taken some hits today. It made no sense going in there next week and not knowing what to expect from him. Now we know what we have."

In Riggs, the Redskins hope they have a second player, in addition to Byner, who can be one of the top backs in the NFL when he's healthy.

Although Riggs has displayed good mobility since returning to practice two weeks ago, the moves he displayed to gain extra yards against the Bills were encouraging.

"He looked quick and ran powerful," said Redskins center Jeff Bostic. "He looked like the typical Gerald Riggs. He can be a big-time threat for us."

With Byner sitting out the second half after gaining 34 yards on 11 carries, Riggs showed why the Redskins traded a first- and a second-round pick to get him from the Falcons. Riggs can play the key role in short-yardage situations.

For much of the first three quarters, the offense stalled after getting inside the Buffalo 25. In the first period, on fourth and one from the Buffalo 16, the Redskins elected to throw into the end zone rather than have the Hogs try to open up space. The result was an incompletion, leading to one of five Chip Lohmiller field goals.

But in the fourth period, following a 61-yard interception return to the Bills 6 by Alvin Walton, Riggs was in the end zone after a pair of three-yard carries through the middle.

"He was away five or six weeks and didn't look like he missed a beat," said quarterback Mark Rypien.

Rocker also appears to have come back with a new beat -- up-tempo.

With defensive tackle Eric Williams sidelined with a foot injury, and defensive end Charles Mann sitting out yesterday with a sore knee, Rocker returned to consistently pressure Buffalo quarterbacks Frank Reich and Gale Gilbert.

"I was in their {backfield} all the time I played," said Rocker, a 1989 No. 3 draft choice who won the Outland and Lombardi trophies in his final year at Auburn.

His trip to injured reserve was caused in part because he jumped offside on a key play in a 21-10 loss to the Giants. He admitted yesterday the past two months have been difficult.

"I am glad we are going to the playoffs, but I have been sitting there saying I hadn't done anything to get us there," said Rocker. "You can always end up quitting, but you have to deal with it. I have been down before so I know what it's like."

Until yesterday, game days had meant emotional turmoil.

"When Sunday came, everyone was jumping around out there and I was just sitting," said Rocker. "And when you are off for so long, a lot of things are going through your head -- you question yourself."