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The Washington Redskins need Michael Westbrook to be an impact player right away. How quickly he can get there is the $18 million question.

That's how much Westbrook, the No. 4 overall draft pick, signed for in a seven-year deal that includes what his agent claimed was the largest signing bonus for a receiver in NFL history - $6.5 million.Westbrook is already behind in his playing duties. A 26-day holdout caused him to miss two preseason games and all but three days of training camp.

"I'd like to tell the fans, `Sorry it took so long,"' he said. "I've been hurting, watching ESPN highlights, seeing my team on TV knowing I can't be there to play with them and help them win."

Henry Ellard, the 13-year veteran who will serve as Westbrook's mentor, said the rookie can make an impact right away if he keeps his moves simple. Coach Norv Turner's offense has a lot of motion and complex routes, and those take a while to learn.

"He'll be doing a lot of on-the-job training," Ellard said. "This offense takes a good year-and-a-half, two years to get comfortable with it."


Pro Bowl safety Carnell Lake will be paid $9.2 million by Pittsburgh for four years, making him the third-highest paid at his position in football.

He received a $2 million bonus for signing a four-year contract with the team and ended a 25-day holdout.

The Steelers also signed linebacker Levon Kirkland to a four-year contract. Kirkland, one of the NFL's top run stoppers at inside linebacker, will earn $6 million over four years. He received a $900,000 signing bonus.


Vinny Testaverde, Cleveland's No. 1 quarterback who missed more than a week of training camp with a leg infection, was released from the hospital.


Given a choice, Lindy Infante would rather coach someplace other than Green Bay, Wis., this weekend.

Infante, entering his first season as Indianapolis' offensive coordinator, coached the Packers from 1988-91. The Colts play Green Bay in their third exhibition game Saturday at Lambeau Field.


Rookie punter Shayne Edge was waived by Tampa Bay in what coach Sam Wyche described as a move to give Edge a chance to make another team.

Edge, a free agent from Florida, competed with offseason acquisition Reggie Roby, one of the best punters in the NFL for the past 12 years.


Running backs Howard Griffith and Derrick Lassic returned to Carolina's banged-up backfield.

Both had been sidelined since the first week of training camp. Griffith underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, and Lassic pulled a muscle in his left thigh.


Seattle released veteran cornerback Kirby Jackson, who played in three Super Bowls in six seasons with the Buffalo Bills.