Quick picks Shuler, Bledsoe share air tonight NFL TRAINING CAMP REPORT


FOXBORO, Mass. -- When Heath Shuler was trying to decide whether to pass up his senior year at Tennessee last January, he asked the quarterbacks who went 1-2 in the 1993 draft -- Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer -- for advice.

Bledsoe left Washington State a year early and Mirer played his senior year at Notre Dame, and they both said they were happy with their decisions.

"Both of them said the main thing is you make your decision," Shuler said. "Whatever you think is best will be right."

Shuler decided to pass up his senior year and it has worked out well so far. He was the third player picked in the college draft, by the Washington Redskins, and got a record $19.25 million contract.

Now he's trying to follow in the footsteps of Bledsoe and Mirer by starting the season opener.

He'll be facing Bledsoe and the New England Patriots when he gets his first chance to play with the starters tonight. He'll work the second and third quarters after John Friesz plays the first quarter.

When Bledsoe got the starting job a year ago, coach Bill Parcells said that he wasn't ready but that he didn't have an alternative.

Washington coach Norv Turner has an alternative in Friesz and seems torn. He said yesterday that he won't choose a starter until the week before the Sept. 4 opener against the Seattle Seahawks.

"We're going to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win the Seattle game," Turner said.

Shuler is the team's quarterback of the future, but Turner said, "I'm not concerned about longevity or development."

Casillas is free agent

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ruled yesterday that Tony Casillas is a free agent who can sign with any team.

The Kansas City Chiefs had complained that the Dallas Cowboys were tampering with their former defensive lineman when Casillas said he had an illness and failed to report to Chiefs camp. As soon as the Chiefs accepted repayment of his $1.2 million signing bonus and relinquished their rights to him, Casillas said he had recovered and could play.

Tagliabue said: "I am now satisfied Tony's medical concerns were genuine."

Casillas said he suffered from borderline hypertension and was under the care of an internist and a cardiologist. Casillas' agent, Tom Condon, said he'll start negotiating with NFL teams that expressed an interest in him during the last week. The Cowboys presumably are one of those teams.

Around the league

Mark Mason, the often-injured superback for Maryland the last three seasons, was waived by the Cowboys. . . . Shawn Moore, the Virginia quarterback drafted by the Denver Broncos on the 11th round in 1991, was released. The Broncos are going with Hugh Millen as the third-string quarterback behind John Elway and Tommy Maddox. Moore said he wasn't surprised because he was due to make around $270,000 and Millen signed for the $162,000 minimum. . . . Arizona Cardinals rookie linebacker Jamir Miller pulled himself out of practice with what he said was a groin pull, and coach Buddy Ryan promptly pulled Miller out of tomorrow's preseason game at Detroit. "Jamir Miller's babying himself. I guess he

thinks he's still at UCLA," Ryan said. . . . Philadelphia Eagles running back Charlie Garner, the team's second-round draft pick, will be out of action indefinitely with a stress fracture of the first rib. . . . Second-year Chicago Bears wide receiver Terry Obee broke his leg and dislocated his ankle. He will be out for the season. . . . A day after they brought in former Redskins defensive end Charles Mann for a workout, the Los Angeles Rams took a look at 13-year defensive end Jeff Bryant. Bryant, 34, played for Rams coach Chuck Knox for nine years in Seattle.

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