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PERRY INKS 2-YEAR DEAL WITH CHICAGO

The Chicago Bears installed their favorite appliance just in time to prepare some home cooking for the Detroit Lions.

Eight months ago, it appeared that William Perry got his nickname of "The Refrigerator" by emptying his onto the dinner table every day. His weight ballooned to 390 pounds, and coach Mike Ditka warned him to lose weight or say goodbye to the Bears."When I say something," Ditka said, "I always say it for a reason. Some people don't understand that."

On Wednesday, what was left of The Fridge signed a two-year contract reportedly worth $1 million a year, or three times what he was paid last season.

"I wanted to be here and Coach Ditka wanted me to be here," Perry said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out until now."

The big defensive tackle missed five weeks of practice, but worked out at a suburban fitness club.

"It's good to have him back," Ditka said. "I don't know if he'll play Sunday. If he does, it will be on third-down and goal-line plays."

Bears lineman Richard Dent was among the most adamant among those calling for the Bears to get Perry's signature on a contract, saying The Fridge's peculiar athletic skills and massive body made him an ideal defensive tool.

In another transaction involving a very large person, Cincinnati's 6-foot-7, 292-pound Joe Walter ended a holdout and may be available for some work against Seattle on Sunday.

Seattle got to the 47-player limit by signing 300-pound tackle John Hunter, but the more significant agreement returns the club's top wide receiver a year ago, Brian Blades. He'll miss the opener against the Bengals while the club uses a two-week roster exemption to get him in the kind of shape that helped him catch 70 passes a year ago.

With Blades around, the Seahawks have said no thanks to wide receiver Michael Bates, a sixth-round selection from Arizona. Bates won a bronze medal at 200 meters in the Barcelona Olympics and continues to compete in track meets in Europe.

Just because the Washington Redskins won the Super Bowl last season doesn't mean help isn't appreciated. The Redskins, down to five linebackers, got some depth by acquiring Huey Richardson from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Washington must move a player today to make room for Richardson.

The Los Angeles Raiders have decided that Eric Dickerson, who ranks third in career rushing yardage, will start Sunday against Denver. Nick Bell will be the backup tailback.

"It's not important who starts," coach Art Shell said. "It's important how you do when you get in there."

Dickerson got the news on his 32nd birthday. He gained only 23 yards in 11 carries in the Raiders' first two exhibition games, then got 93 in 20 carries against the Redskins. Bell had 103 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Dickerson last weekend.

Across town, the Los Angeles Rams went to the waiver wire for help, picking up running back Troy Stradford and linebacker John Stephen. Stradford was let go by Kansas City, Stephen by Green Bay.

The Buffalo Bills got their last two holdouts under contract Wednesday. Tight end Keith McKeller and cornerback Kirby Jackson agreed to two-year contracts after meeting general manager Bill Polian's deadline to sign or risk sitting out the season.