Denver Broncos Coach Dan Reeves named John Elway, the NFL's first million dollar-a-year rookie, yesterday as starting quarterback for the season.

In announcing the decision, Reeves said Elway, a former all-America at Stanford, would start in the Broncos' final preseason game Friday at Minnesota. Steve DeBerg had been the starter.

Reeves said Elway "has the ability to get better . . . He and DeBerg are equal at this time, but for a guy to be equal as a rookie, he gives you the chance to get better all the time," Reeves said . . .

In Dallas, the Cowboys cut eight players, including fourth-round draft pick Chris Faulkner and South African kicker Naas Botha, who left a lucrative rugby career in hopes of making the team . . .

In Houston, troubled Oilers tight end Dave Casper, who faces drunken driving charges in San Angelo and a possible fine for missing Saturday's game at New Orleans, apologized for his absence and said he still wants to play football.

"Things got to me a little bit and I didn't react too well to them," said Casper, who was arrested Wednesday night . .

The USFL's San Antonio Gunslingers signed NFL veteran tight end Richard Osborne, a 6-4, 245-pounder out of Texas A&M. He played five years in the NFL for Philadelphia, the New York Jets and St. Louis . . .

Defensive back Rod Perry, obtained in a trade for tight end David Hill late last week, was sent back to the Los Angeles Rams after failing his physical examination with the Detroit Lions because of an old knee injury . . .

The Atlanta Falcons cut quarterback Jeff Komlo, a De Matha High School product who'd played for the Lions. Tackle Mike Kenn, the NFL's offensive lineman of the year in 1982, ended a 31-day holdout and will report to the Falcons' camp . . .