Washington Redskins quarterback Brad Johnson, not yet at full speed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee May 5, was given the day off from practice, disappointing many of the 3,000 spectators who were on hand for Fan Appreciation Day.

Coach Norv Turner said he thought it was a good day to rest Johnson given that he had an "outstanding" practice Tuesday afternoon against Pittsburgh.

"If we stay on top of the thing, he'll keep getting stronger, and we won't have a problem," Turner said.

The strategy was a switch from the plan Turner had said he'd follow with Johnson before camp. His initial plan was to have Johnson participate in all of the team drills, but rest him periodically during individual drills.

Turner said today that he changed tactics after realizing that Johnson was so driven, he had trouble sitting out portions of practice.

"I figured it out after about three or four days; the only way I was going to rest him was to make him take his pads off and watch because he's a competitor," Turner said. "We're giving him more reps than he needs. And that's just the way we're going to handle it. In fact, he looked so good yesterday I said, `Let's not press this thing. Let's give him a day off.' "

Johnson seemed to be favoring his right knee when camp opened July 26, but his mobility gradually improved. He described Turner's decision as "wise."

"For my legs, it was probably a good thing for me," Johnson said. "And as many balls as I've thrown so far, it's probably good for my arm also. I've had to scramble a few times, and I do think if you were just a fan in the stands watching, you wouldn't even notice that something was going wrong. I feel like my timing is good with the receivers. I feel pretty good right now."

Patton, Heck Battle at Tackle

The battle for the starting job at left tackle is down to Joe Patton and Andy Heck, both of whom struggled in practice today.

Patton was limping from a flare-up of tendinitis in his right knee and was held out of one-on-one pass rushing drills. Heck got beat on his opening drill by veteran Ken Harvey, taking his first snap of camp.

"Neither one is where I want them to be," said offensive line coach Russ Grimm, "but that's what training camp is for. They've got to keep working. It'll sort itself out in the wash." . . .

The crowd estimated at 3,000 for Fan Appreciation Day got to see rookie cornerback Champ Bailey return a few kickoffs. They also saw defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield and guard Keith Simms nearly come to blows in a one-on-one drill.

"That's the way it is, and that's the way it's going to be between offensive and defensive linemen," Stubblefield said. "When we're in that one-on-one pass rush, that competition is so high for the both of us that one guy might do something to tick the other guy off and tempers flare." . . .

Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson, who sprained his ankle Monday, likely will miss practice the rest of the week, trainer Bubba Tyer said. He'll be reevaluated Saturday by the team doctor. . . . Wide receiver Tim Alexander was unable to practice today after spraining an ankle during Tuesday's practice with Pittsburgh.