Friesz to start for 'Skins, then pass off to Shuler NFL REPORT

August 31, 1994|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Sun Staff Writer

Take your pick.

Coach Norv Turner either found a nifty way to ease Heath Shuler into the lineup without putting a lot of pressure on the young quarterback or he has made a blunder that could help cost the Washington Redskins the opening game against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Redskins find out Sunday how his unorthodox decision to start John Friesz and bring Shuler in during the second quarter will work out.

"If I start out 13-for-13, Heath is going to get time in the second quarter," Friesz said.

If Friesz starts out that well and still gets pulled -- even for a series or two -- Turner will open himself to the second guess.

"The decision is based on what gives us the best chance to beat Seattle," Turner said.

It also gives Turner a chance to play Shuler without putting him into the spotlight of being the starter.

"All those things were part of the decision. It's not that I don't think Heath would handle it. He'll handle it fine. I just felt more comfortable with John early," Turner said.

Nobody could think of a time when a coach has started the season with one quarterback and announced in advance that the starter would split time. "I think this will be a first," Friesz said.

Sharpe threatens walkout

Sterling Sharpe, Green Bay's All-Pro wide receiver, may leave the Packers if the team does not readjust his contract before Sunday's opener.

The Milwaukee Sentinel reported that Sharpe's agent, William Black, confirmed the Packers and Sharpe have held intense discussions and that a resolution did not appear close.

Sharpe has seven years left on the contract he signed in 1991. He is due to make $1.3 million this season.

Gary has appendectomy

Running back Cleveland Gary, cut by the Los Angeles Rams %% after a halftime departure Thursday, underwent an emergency appendectomy Monday night after four days of suffering. Gary chose not to tell Rams coaches about his illness.

"Right now, I'm bummed out," said Gary, who is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks. "Without a doubt, had this not happened, I would have worked something out with Dallas."

Taking pay cuts

Living with the salary cap is still a problem for NFL teams.

The Redskins, for example, hadn't expected both Tyronne Stowe and Kurt Gouveia to make the team at linebacker and both Raleigh McKenzie and Mark Schlereth to make it on the offensive line.

Because all four players played well enough to be kept, the Redskins are asking other players to take pay cuts to free up money for the practice squad and injured players.

Guard Vernice Smith took a $100,000 cut last week. A. J. Johnson accepted a cut yesterday.

But cornerback Johnny Thomas is balking at a cut from $300,000 to $200,000, said his agent, Brett Senior. He says Thomas will be claimed by other teams if waived.

Senior said: "I think it's going to have a ripple effect on team morale."

The Philadelphia Eagles are another team still cutting salaries.

Meanwhile, Carlton Bailey (Woodlawn) returned to the New York Giants with his ego bruised but his $1.225 million salary intact.

The Giants initially asked Bailey to take a 50 percent cut but Bailey and his agent Tony Agnone declined. The Giants indicated that they won't press the issue until his status as a starter is resolved.

On Monday, the Giants announced that Bailey had lost his weak-side linebacker role to Michael Brooks but would be

allowed to compete eventually for middle linebacker with new starter Corey Widmer. "I've just got to go out there and take back what I feel is mine," Bailey said.

Around the league

The New Orleans Saints have offered defensive back Deion Sanders a four-year, $17 million deal that would make him one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The deal is contingent on his playing football full time. . . . New England Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for a gastric disorder. It was unknown whether Bledsoe would be sidelined for any length of time, but a team spokesman indicated that the problem wasn't considered serious. %%

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