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Suddenly, over the last 24 hours, the Washington Redskins have become big money. The Redskins were originally 2½-point underdogs to the 49ers for the American Bowl on Sunday (Saturday night back in the States). Now they're 3-point favorites.

"The gamblers started going with us? Naw," coach Steve Spurrier said. "They must have checked my USFL exhibition game record. We won 'em all."

The two teams held their final practices Saturday morning at the Osaka Dome. It was "Fan Day," and a thousand or so fans came to watch and get an autograph or two. The cheerleaders were extremely popular, stealing the show by signing pictures on the sidelines while the players were on the field. The Hoggettes were also in the stands, and they quickly attracted the attention of local television reporters who no doubt pointed them to the nearest kimono store.

Rent-a-receiver Akihito Amaya will be around for a while longer. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said the 49ers and Redskins have been granted roster exemptions through the end of training camp for their respective Japanese players.

The 49ers made the request because they like what they've seen from their player, linebacker Masafumi Kawaguchi. Spurrier, put on the spot at a news conference before the Japanese media, made a similar request on behalf of Amaya. Kawaguchi has an outside shot at making San Francisco's roster; Amaya has no chance with Washington. Both players originally signed 10-day contracts. Chris Samuels, who was sick the day before, returned to practice and seemed ready to play in the game. Ross Tucker, fighting for one of the starting guard spots, did not practice because of a jammed neck. However, Spurrier said he expects Tucker and Rod Jones to start at guard against the 49ers.

The practice ended with Spurrier making a few remarks to the crowd. Asked to name a difference between the college game and the pro game, the coach replied "the cheerleaders" _ to wild applause.


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