HERNDON, Va. -- Considering how it happened, the multiple damage to Mark Rypien's left knee is not surprising.
The Washington Redskins' quarterback is out of action for six to eight weeks after arthroscopic examination found two knee ligaments abused in Sunday's 19-15 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
That means Rypien will not be available for either of the Redskins' games against the Giants and at least one game against the Eagles.
Stan Humphries, his experience limited to 23 NFL passes, will be the starter against the Cardinals in Phoenix Sunday evening.
His backup will be Gary Hogeboom, who became a Redskin yesterday. The 11th-year veteran, 32, has thrown 1,325 NFL passes and completed 743 of them, for three teams, but never as a full-timer. And never, he volunteered yesterday, "for a class organization."
Rypien's knee was wrecked with 2:11 left in the first half against the Cowboys. It was bent against itself when Dallas' Dean Hamel landed on it, blocked by Washington's Mark Schlereth.
Such violence being commonplace in professional football, none of the three men had any awareness, or recollection, of what happened.
Rypien, completing his third straight pass near the close of a sporadic (8-for-17) half, was concentrating on Art Monk, completing a 15-yard gain down the right side.
Hamel, a 276-pound tackle, was dubbed the Tasmanian Devil by his teammates for his bellicosity and persistency when he was a Redskin. He has admitted "turning it up a notch" against his old buddies.
"He was coming hard on the inside," said Schlereth. "He was down low. I was trying to drive him [Hamel] into the ground." Schlereth, a 285-pounder, is among the strongest of men. In the effort, he drove Hamel into Rypien.
Dr. Charles Jackson, the orthopedic surgeon who did the arthroscopy, cited "the lateral collateral ligament, the posterior capsule and the anterior cruciate ligament" as damaged.
Rypien will wear a "leg immobilizer" for three weeks, taking moderate therapy. Then he will undergo a rehabilitation program that may bring the knee back to full strength in three weeks. It may take a week or two longer.
Six weeks from now the Redskins, 2-0 in the NFC East, will have played Phoenix again, the Giants home and away, the Eagles at RFK and Detroit on the road.
If Rypien needs two more weeks, he misses the Eagles, away, and New Orleans, home.
And by then Rypien may be the backup quarterback. Coach Joe Gibbs was bullish on Humphries Monday, reminding the media of "how we feel about Stan" and his potential. Gibbs was impressed that Humphries "wasn't flustered" after he was thrust into the game, as cold as NFL quarterbacks get.
Humphries hadn't thrown a pass in a game since the exhibition against the Rams Aug. 31. He had spent the week impersonating Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman in practice.
Gibbs cited good things Humphries has done. "He's not a runner, really, but he'd come [roll] out more than what Ryp would.
"It's his opportunity," Gibbs said. "He's worked three years and he's got to seize it."
Drafted in the sixth round out of Southeast Louisiana in 1988, Humphries spent his first season on injured reserve with a reputed blood disorder. Last year he played mop-up in two games.
Hogeboom can remember the feeling. In 1982 he got into only four games and tried only eight passes with the Cowboys all year. That was the totality of his NFL experience when Hogeboom was called on after Dexter Manley knocked Danny White silly in the NFC title game of the strike-shortened year.
Hogeboom didn't win the game but he went 14-for-29 and rallied the Cowboys for two touchdowns in the third period. Darryl Grant's winning touchdown was on an interception of a pass tipped by Manley.
Hogeboom started 13 games for Phoenix last year and was told, he said, that he would be "part of the team" this year. He went in the last cut.
Hogeboom said he doesn't care, "one way or the other," that Phoenix is the Redskins' opponent this week. He had covered the subject of his past employers in Dallas, Indianapolis and Phoenix with the observation that "it's good to be with a class organization."
The Redskins have averaged less than 27 minutes of possession time in their first three games. They have made only a third of their third-down conversions while their opponents (notably the 49ers) have succeeded in almost half theirs. They have incurred 207 yards of penalties to the opponents' 133.
And so on. If he sleeps at the office three nights a week, questioned Gibbs' wife, Pat, and all those things happen anyway, "Why not just stay home?"
"She may have a point," Gibbs said. "Maybe we ought to just roll the ball out there on Sunday and see what happens. Maybe they wouldn't drop eight passes."