PRO FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE NFL : Rookie Will Start for the Redskins

Associated Press

Heath Shuler, the Washington Redskins' first-round draft pick this year, will replace veteran John Friesz as the starter against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

"If you're going to play, you may as well play against the best," Shuler said. "I like challenges and this is something bigger than I've ever done. But you don't have to get tight or nervous. You come out and play the game. Standing on the sidelines is not fun. The fun is when you get a chance to go out and play."

The Redskins are 1-3 after four games with Friesz as the starter. Friesz's strong showing in Game 2 at New Orleans caused Coach Norv Turner to postpone plans to start Shuler in the third game.

Shuler will become the first Redskin rookie to start at quarterback since Norm Snead in 1962.

Meanwhile, Turner said he will stick with Chip Lohmiller as his kicker. The team tried out Cary Blanchard, formerly with the Jets, and two rookies: Todd Peterson of Georgia and Dirk Borgognone of Pacific. Turner said Lohmiller's job was in jeopardy after he missed an extra point and a 47-yard field goal Sunday against Atlanta.

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Jerry Jones wants Jimmy Johnson to start being a journalist and quit being a "bitter" former coach.

The Dallas Cowboy owner, stung by Johnson's recent criticisms of current coach Barry Switzer, said he hoped the NFL analyst for Fox "can keep in the parameters of being a journalist. I hope he can be professional and not float out into petty, negative comments about this football team."

Jones said "Johnson's attitude will not affect whether we make a first down or fumble the ball. In my mind, what he said reinforces in my mind why he was not here."

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NFL game officials ratified a new labor agreement, a seven-year contract with the league worth more than $70 million. The contract was approved by 70% of the officials.

Game pay for first- and second-year officials will go from $750 to $1,325. For officials with 20 or more years of service, it will increase from $2,500 to $4,000. Pensions will increase from $50 per month for each year of service to $150 per month.

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The Atlanta Falcons signed kick returner Clarence Verdin and safety Brett Maxie and both will be available for Sunday's game against the Rams.

Verdin, a Pro Bowl player in 1990 and 1992, had 1,050 return yards for Indianapolis last year. Maxie, who was an unrestricted free agent, played last year with New Orleans.

The Falcons released kick returner Tony Smith and rookie receiver Joe Rogers.

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The Indianapolis Colts signed former Denver and New York Giant receiver Mark Jackson and waived receiver Shannon Baker, who signed last year as a free agent and had two catches for 15 yards in limited duty this season. . . . The Buffalo Bills will know in three days if Thurman Thomas can play Sunday against the Chicago Bears. Thomas suffered an injured right knee Monday night in the Bills' 27-20 victory over Denver. He had X-rays on Monday night that were negative and will not need an MRI test for soft-tissue damage. . . . Defensive end Jeff Hunter, signed as an unrestricted free agent after spending the last two seasons with Miami but slowed by a knee injury this season, was waived by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Running back Jerry Ellison was re-signed. . . . The Green Bay Packers signed free agent tight end Reggie Johnson and waived running back Darrell Thompson, a first-round draft pick in 1990. . . . San Diego Charger linebacker David Griggs and running back Eric Bieniemy suffered sprained knees in Sunday's 26-24 victory over the Raiders, but the Chargers do not play until Oct. 9 at home against Kansas City. . . . Jay Schroeder took most of the snaps with the first unit at Arizona Cardinal practice, but Buddy Ryan will not announce his starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings until today. Steve Beuerlein and Jim McMahon are the other candidates. Ryan brought in free agent Mike Buck for a tryout "in case we need him."

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