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Frerotte Faces Patriots as Starter

August 22, 1996

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) _ For most of the Washington Redskins, Friday night’s game against the New England Patriots is merely the last of the exhibition season. For Gus Frerotte, though, it will be a first.

Frerotte was named the Redskins starting quarterback this week over Heath Shuler, who was picked 194 players ahead of him in the 1994 draft. And in his first start, Frerotte says he will try and avoid the problems that probably cost Shuler the job.

``I don’t want a mistake to cause my team to lose a game. That’s what I’m trying to do without, those big mistakes,″ Frerotte said. ``You have to have the confidence that you don’t have to worry that your mistake is going to cost you your job. If you keep making mistakes after mistake after mistake, then you have to start worrying about your job.″

Shuler threw away his chances to be No. 1 in last week’s 28-7 loss to Cincinnati. After being tripped at the line of scrimmage on third-and-1 deep in Redskins territory, he desperately flung the ball toward running back Terry Allen.

Allen wasn’t looking, and the Bengals recovered the fumble to set up a touchdown. Shuler later threw an interception.

Frerotte was just 4-for-16 in relief, but he hasn’t turned the ball over in three games.

While the Redskins have settled their quarterback controversy, the Patriots are just beginning one. Although $42-million man Drew Bledsoe is set at starter, Jay Barker and Scott Zolak are fighting for No. 2; punter Tom Tupa will serve as the third QB.

The Patriots have also settled on their place kicker, though, choosing Adam Vinatieri over longtime Bill Parcells favorite Matt Bahr. Washington coach Norv Turner has a similar decision with veteran Eddie Murray and second-year player Scott Blanton, who kicks off longer but missed a 46-yard field goal last week.

New England is coming off two easy victories, over Dallas and Philadelphia, and the Redskins have lost two in a row this exhibition season, to the Lions and Bengals. But what concerns the Patriots most in the final game is keeping everybody healthy, so most starters will probably play about a quarter.

Those who are fighting for jobs may go longer, like Washington’s third-year linebacker Dion Foxx, who was injured for almost all of training camp.

``I just need to perform,″ he said. ``It’s my first preseason game coming off minor knee surgery. ... It’s the only game that they have to look at me.″

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