Start tomorrow no sign Friesz will start season NFL TRAINING CAMP REPORT

August 25, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

ASHBURN, Va. -- John Friesz is likely to start the Washington Redskins' final preseason game tomorrow night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that doesn't mean he'll start the season opener Sept. 4.

In fact, he's probably the underdog to rookie Heath Shuler in the team's quarterback duel.

"I think John will start," against Pittsburgh, coach Norv Turner said yesterday, but he added that Shuler could start the season opener against the Seattle Seahawks even if he doesn't start a preseason game.

"I don't think that matters. I don't think you have to do that for him to start the opener," Turner said.

All Turner will say is that he will start the quarterback who will give the team the best chance to win the opener.

But there are 19.25 million reasons (that's the sum of Shuler's eight-year contract) to start the rookie. When owner Jack Kent Cooke agrees to that kind of contract, he wants to see the player on the field.

Friesz would get the start if he has a clear edge. So far, though, it has been fairly close. Friesz has completed 17 of 31 passes for 238 yards, and Shuler 18 of 40 for 146 yards.

Actually, the best quarterback in preseason has been Gus Frerotte, the seventh-round pick who has completed 18 of 29 for 227 yards and two touchdowns. But he already is stuck in the No. 3 slot even though he will play the second half tomorrow because Turner doesn't want to risk injury to his regulars.

Friesz said he isn't putting any pressure on himself.

"If you spend too much time worrying about all those situations, the what ifs and all that, you're going to miss the present day stuff," Friesz said. "I do what the coaching staff asks me to do and let them make the decision later."

Friesz hopes to play well enough to sign with another team as a starter next year.

Another salary cap victim

Veteran quarterbacks such as Phil Simms aren't the only ones who can be victimized by the salary cap. Denver quarterback Tommy Maddox found out yesterday it can happen to young ones, too.

Maddox, a first-round pick in 1992, was being groomed to replace John Elway but is making $850,000 in base salary this year. The Broncos can't afford to pay that to a backup -- they're already responsible for $350,000 as a pro-rated share of his signing bonus -- so they told him he would have to take a paycut or leave.

Maddox turned it down and the Broncos said they'll trade him or release him. Hugh Millen will be the backup for the $162,000 minimum.

"This is why baseball is not playing right now," Maddox said. "You tell anybody to take almost a 100 percent pay cut and it's not going to sit well with them."

Oakland's offer

George Vukasin, president of the Oakland (Calif.) Coliseum, said he has offered the Seattle Seahawks an opportunity to play in that stadium while the Kingdome's roof is being repaired.

"We've made them the same offer we made the Raiders after the earthquake," Vukasin said.

Like the Raiders, the Seahawks are expected to reject the offer. They already have played preseason games at the University of Washington's Husky Stadium while the Kingdome is being repaired. Judy VanAusten, a Coliseum spokeswoman, said there have been no conversations with the Seahawks.

TV turmoil in Dallas

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, in effect, fired announcer Brad Sham from his TV show after Sham made comments critical of Jones and coach Barry Switzer and in defense of another announcer, Brad Hansen, who got in a shouting match on TV with Switzer.

Meanwhile, Hansen quit as the co-host of Switzer's show and said he would quit as the game analyst if the Cowboys tried to muzzle him.

"If and when they try to tell me what I can and can't say, then I quit," Hansen said.

Jones said, "We want our broadcasts to be positive."

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