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SVO: sign Billy Joe Hobert.

.c The Associated Press 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The struggling New Orleans Saints moved quarterback Heath
Shuler to injured reserve Wednesday because of a turf toe, making room on the
roster to sign Billy Joe Hobert. 

Hobert was cut by Buffalo in October after admitting he hadn't studied the
playbook. He threw two interceptions on his first three passes against New

It was the only action of the year for Hobert, who was traded to the Bills by
Oakland earlier this year for a third-round draft choice. 

The Saints (4-7) gave no figures for Hobert's three-year, no-option contract.
Television station WGNO reported he got no signing bonus and will be paid
$15,000 a game this season. He could get $900,000 next year if he plays in 70
percent of the games. 

At Buffalo, Hobert's salary of $750,000 was the second-highest among backups
in the NFL. 

In his five years in the NFL, Hobert has completed 118 of 214 passes for
1,340 yards, 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. 

The move comes two days after Saints coach Mike Ditka, desperate to get
something out of his ineffective offense, elevated Doug Nussmeier, the No. 3
quarterback much of the season, to starter Sunday against the Atlanta

Shuler, acquired from the Washington Redskins during the offseason for a No.
5 and No. 3 draft pick, was demoted from starter for the second time this
season after throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble against the
Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Shuler has thrown 14 interceptions and only two
touchdowns and has fumbled four times. 

The Saints, who have not had a winning season since 1992, signed Shuler to a
four-year, $7.6 million contract on March 29 that included a $1 million
signing bonus. 

Shuler, once the hottest quarterback in the country, gave up his senior
season at Tennessee for a $19 million contract when the Washington Redskins
made him the third player taken in the 1994 draft. He was benched in
Washington for seventh-round draft pick Gus Frerotte, however, after two
shaky seasons as Washington's part-time starter. 

Eleven games into the season, the Saints offense is ranked dead last in the
league overall and in passing. It's ranked 27th rushing, and Shuler has a
46.6 rating, the lowest in the NFL. 

In Sunday's 20-17 win in overtime against Seattle, Shuler was intercepted
twice and was replaced by Nussmeier in the final minutes. Nussmeier completed
4 of 4 passes for 45 yards. 

Danny Wuerffel, named the starter before the Carolina game and then moved to
No. 3 after two shutouts, was named to back up Nussmeier against Atlanta. 

Shuler hurt his toe in the victory over Oakland and further aggravated it
against Seattle. On Monday, Ditka said it was worse. 

 Copyright 1997 The Associated Press.  The information  contained in the AP
news report may not be published,  broadcast, rewritten or otherwise
distributed without  prior written authority of The Associated Press.