Rypien is Redskins' starter, but Conklin gets chance to call shots PRO FOOTBALL

July 31, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

CARLISLE, Pa. -- Mark Rypien and Cary Conklin will make their scrimmage debuts today as if they were dueling for the starting quarterback job.

"You can't ever get in a comfort zone," Rypien said. "You can't get lethargic."

Conklin said, "I'm going to compete as hard as I can. I don't think anything is set in stone."

The reality is that when the two quarterbacks play in the scrimmage against the New York Jets today at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., Rypien will go in virtually entrenched as the starter.

Although the job was supposed to be open after Rypien's subpar season in 1992, Rypien has played well the first two weeks of camp and Conklin was slowed by a knee injury. That's why Rod Dowhower, the team's offensive coordinator, said yesterday there won't be a quarterback controversy during training camp, "unless something comes out of nowhere."

Rypien probably will play in only the first of four 12-play series to get his first work against another team with the Redskins new short-passing offense that resembles the San Francisco 49ers' timing offense.

Rypien also will have two new starting receivers in Ricky Sanders and Tim McGee now that Gary Clark left as a free agent and Art Monk was demoted. Desmond Howard may not play because he is slowed with a groin injury.

"I think the guys we have now are excited about what we're doing," Rypien said.

Coach Richie Petitbon would like Rypien to have a good tuneup.

"I'd just like to see him go out there and move the team. It'd be nice if he could take them down and get us in [the end zone]. He's got to get his feet wet," he said.

Conklin, by contrast, will see the majority of the work because he was held out of last week's scrimmage against the Pittsburgh Steelers with a tender knee. Rypien didn't play because it was mainly for young players.

Conklin's knee improved this week, and he is ready to go. He also is comfortable with the short passing game.

"I really like it. A lot of quick-hitting stuff will be good for us," he said.

Even though Conklin figures to begin the season as the backup, Dowhower wouldn't be worried if he had to use Conklin.

"He's showing me that he's got all the qualities, and it's just a matter of opportunity," Dowhower said.

"He understands he's one play [an injury to Rypien] from lining up for us. We'd ask him to go in and win the game. That's the difference between a backup who's going to get you out of a game and a backup who's going to win the game. That's what we'd ask him to do. We'd expect him to go in and win the game," he said.

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