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Redskins' Westbrook will miss 4-6 weeks Knee injury to No. 1 pick will not require surgery


Playing against the Arizona Cardinals is becoming hazardous to the health of the Washington Redskins' high-priced first-round draft picks.

Quarterback Heath Shuler, the third pick in last year's draft who got a $19.25 million deal, missed four starts in 1994 after spraining his ankle against the Cardinals and hasn't played again this year since he suffered a sprained shoulder against Arizona in the opener.

In Sunday's 24-20 loss to the Cardinals, wide receiver Michael Westbrook, the fourth pick in this year's draft who signed an $18.2 million deal after holding out for 26 days, suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee and will be sidelined four to six weeks.

"It's discouraging," said coach Norv Turner, whose team is 2-5 and has suffered four losses on the road in the final 76 seconds.

The only good news for Westbrook is that an MRI exam showed he won't need surgery and still should be able to play again late in the season.

But it's another setback for Westbrook, who was just beginning to overcome his late start.

Although he had seven plays of 20 or more yards, including a 58-yard run for a touchdown on a reverse against the Cardinals in the opener, he had only 19 catches for the season when he suffered the injury. The only time he caught more than three passes in a game came against the Oakland Raiders, when he caught five.

"We've been working hard to get him making the kind of progress we'd like him to make and I thought last week as practice went on, he came out of it a little bit," Turner said.

Westbrook suffered the injury late in the first half when he was blocking for running back Terry Allen, who inadvertently rolled on his legs at the end of a 12-yard run.

Westbrook said he didn't realize how serious the injury was at first because it wasn't that painful as he went to the sidelines.

When he thought he was ready to return to the game, he said, "I got up and lost control of my leg."

The injury also could cost him the $250,000 performance bonus that is part of his contract.

One of the standards that would trigger the bonus would be 41 catches, which will now be difficult for him to reach.

In Westbrook's absence, Leslie Shepherd, who has 14 catches this season, will move into the starting lineup. Tydus Winans, a third-round pick last year, will be the third receiver on passing downs.

The Redskins may sign a new fourth receiver. They're bringing in former Chicago Bear Greg McMurtry for a workout today and are also considering two players who were cut at the end of camp, Olanda Truitt and Patrick Newman.

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