Shuler and Westbrook connect


ASHBURN, Va. -- Heath Shuler to Michael Westbrook.

The Washington Redskins hope it will be a combination that will one day be as effective as Sonny Jurgensen to Charley Taylor or Joe Theismann to Art Monk.

Shuler, the quarterback who was the third pick in the 1994 draft, and Westbrook, the wide receiver who was the fourth pick in this year's draft, got to work together for the first time yesterday when the Redskins started their annual weekend minicamp.

The drill in shorts yesterday was the first time the two players worked together, and they seemed to have an instant rapport.

"He's real competitive," Westbrook said of Shuler. "You can see it in his eyes and how intense he plays. I think I'm the same way. I think we're going to work well together."

Shuler has lofty goals for the pair.

"You hope that it can be someday like a [Joe] Montana slash [Steve] Young-[Jerry] Rice era. You would hope to be able to [play that way]," Shuler said. "Those guys know each other. They played day in and day out, game after game. They understand each other. They know what's going on. They know the offense."

Westbrook has a lot of catching up to do because he's at the stage Shuler was a year ago.

"The first day last year it seemed like it was a disaster," Shuler said. "Everything went wrong. It was much smoother today. At least you know what's going on. There's a comfort zone you can get into."

Coach Norv Turner said Shuler is better than he was at the end of last year after spending the past three months in off-season drills at Redskin Park.

"He has such more understanding of what we're doing and such great confidence now. We've got to get the rest of the guys on the same page with him," Turner said.

Westbrook, who wore No. 81 at Colorado but was given No. 82 by the Redskins (Monk wore 81, and the Redskins aren't giving it out), was doing the learning yesterday.

"It's a different game, a lot different than college. I'm just learning how to play it," Westbrook said.

Shuler said he told Westbrook to get pointers from veteran Henry Ellard, and he took that advice.

"He was teaching me the way the offense works. I'm standing there listening to him because he's a vet and he knows," Westbrook said.

Westbrook, who's being counted on to start the opener, wants to pick up things quickly.

"I don't think I have time to go through that rookie stuff. They're expecting a lot out of me. That's good. I like it when people expect things out of me," he said.

Westbrook added: "I don't like to make mistakes. If a quarterback throws a bad pass and it touches my hands, it's my fault [if it's not caught]. It's not the quarterback's fault, because it touched my hands and I shouldn't have dropped it. I blame myself. Every time the ball touches my hands and I don't catch it, it's my fault."

Shuler said he understands what Westbrook is experiencing.

"I know what he's going through. There'll be confusion. He's the type player who's willing to work hard, so he'll get the job done," he said.

Turner said: "He did some good things and he did some bad things. He's got to learn what we're trying to do. You get out there and there's 9,000 going through your mind, so I think you start going a little slower. When he was comfortable doing something, he did it real well. He's going to be an outstanding player."

NOTES: Defensive tackle Bobby Wilson, bothered by injuries throughout his career, pulled a quadriceps muscle. . . . The other defensive tackle, Tim Johnson, missed the first day because his wife had a baby girl. He'll join camp today. . . . The minicamp ends tomorrow.

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