Veteran cornerback Darrell Green might not play in the Washington Redskins' preseason opener Friday night at New England because of a dislocated finger. If Green misses the game, first-round draft choice Champ Bailey will start, Coach Norv Turner said today.

Green dislocated the middle finger of his left hand during Wednesday's practice with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Latrobe, Pa. He said he had trouble sleeping overnight and the finger remained sore today. He was in uniform for this morning's full-speed practice, but didn't participate in the full-scale team drills.

Turner said the Redskins will decide Green's status during warmups Friday night. The club likely will be cautious with the 39-year-old. Green said he plans to accompany the team to the game, but made no promises about playing.

"Fortunately I think it's going to be okay . . . I can't do a whole lot right now," Green said. ". . . I'll be there in some fashion. I just don't know to what extent."

Redskins defensive backs coach Tom Hayes said the upside to Green missing Friday's game would be Bailey receiving a chance to start, but that "No matter what, Champ is going to get a lot of opportunities over the course of the preseason."

Said Bailey: "You hate for it to come through injury. But if it comes, it comes."

While the Redskins have made rookie Jon Jansen their starting right tackle, they have taken a slower approach with Bailey. Veteran Darryl Pounds has practiced more with the starting defense than Bailey has.

Still, the Redskins say they love Bailey's talent and his low-key demeanor. Hayes said Bailey is learning the subtle shifts in technique needed to succeed in the NFL. The Redskins expect Bailey to start at cornerback by early in the regular season, and they also will use him as a kick returner and wide receiver.

Wilkinson Still Out

Defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson will miss Friday night's game because of a sprained ankle, but Turner said he hopes Wilkinson will resume practicing early next week. . . .

Turner traditionally has used his starters for about a quarter in preseason openers, but he said he may go with his starters for as long as a half Friday night.

"When you have 15 guys starting at new positions, I think getting reps is critical," Turner said. "You can always adjust in Game 4 [of the preseason] if you need to."

Warm Feeling in Middle

The Redskins are pleased with Derek Smith's transition to middle linebacker after two seasons at outside linebacker. . . .

Wide receiver Nigel Williams resumed practicing today after being sidelined by a strained groin. . . . The left side of the Redskins' offensive line is hurting: Tackle Joe Patton is playing with a bruised knee, and guard Keith Sims has a sore knee and sore foot.