Steve DeBerg, in the best shape of his 11-year NFL career, was named Tampa Bay's starting quarterback ahead of Vinny Testaverde for Sunday's season opener against Atlanta.

Rookie Coach Ray Perkins told DeBerg and Testaverde separately of his decision Friday before Tampa Bay's 23-16 loss at Indianapolis in the preseason finale. Yesterday, Perkins spoke to both quarterbacks together.

"I expected to start and would have been surprised not to, but I've been surprised before," said DeBerg, who started all four exhibition games and completed 29 of 45 passes for 314 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception.

The Buccaneers placed two rookies, running back Don Smith and defensive end Harry Swayne, on injured reserve and claimed two players to remain at the 45-man roster limit. Tampa Bay signed second-year wide receiver Derek Holloway, a former USFL star waived by the Washington Redskins, and recalled free-agent wide receiver Gene Taylor, who was released Monday by the Buccaneers.


All-Pro linebacker Lawrence Taylor said he would retire after the 1989 season, which is the last year he is under contract. Taylor, 28, made the statement in an interview on NBC-TV's "Today Show."

One of Taylor's agents, Steve Rosner, said the Giants were aware of the player's intentions to retire after his contract expired. However, General Manager George Young denied Rosner's statement.


After a round of late-preseason negotiations called "an insomniac's delight" by agent Leigh Steinberg, No. 1 draft choice Jason Buck, a defensive end, agreed to a four-year, $1.5 million contract.


The team signed second-year defensive tackle Jonathan Dumbauld off waivers, but reported little progress in negotiations with cornerback Roynell Young and wide receiver Cris Carter. Dumbauld was waived by the New Orleans Saints.


Inside linebacker Thomas Benson, the team's final holdout this season, agreed to terms. Benson, a fourth-year pro who started every game last season, is expected to sign today.

Tight end Rod Bernstine, San Diego's No. 1 draft choice, was placed on injured reserve because of a sore hamstring. Offensive lineman Broderick Thompson, waived Monday in the Chargers' final cut, was recalled to fill Bernstine's roster spot.


Coach Tom Landry said he cannot remember the last time his team was so unprepared for the opening of a season.

The Cowboys scored three touchdowns in four preseason games. Starting quarterback Danny White completed just 40 percent of his passes in the four exhibitions and backup Steve Pelluer 32 percent. Running back Herschel Walker has not played a single down and Tony Dorsett has played sparingly.

"I would think a 9-7 season would be a reasonable goal," Landry said. "It is obvious we will have a slow start."