Redskins' newest QB is the original Rypien

December 14, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

ASHBURN, VA — ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins coach Richie Petitbon, who changes quarterbacks the way some men change ties, has done it for the seventh time this season.

Petitbon yesterday named Mark Rypien, who was injured once and benched twice this year, to start Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.

Rypien hasn't completely recovered from the knee injury he suffered in the second game and will undergo exploratory arthroscopic surgery in the off-season, but Petitbon wants to give him one more shot.

"We're looking for a spark on offense," said Petitbon, who yanked Rich Gannon in the fourth quarter of the 3-0 loss to the New York Jets Saturday. "We're looking for something to ignite us. Our best chance is with Ryp."

Neither Rypien nor Gannon has been effective. Each has been intercepted seven times. Rypien has thrown for four touchdowns, Gannon for three. They have identical quarterback ratings (58.2).

The offense also has been hampered by several injuries in the offensive line.

"You can't blame the quarterback," said Petitbon, although he didn't rule out further changes.

Since Rypien injured his knee, Petitbon has gone from Cary Conklin to Gannon, back to Rypien, back to Conklin for a series, back to Rypien, back to Gannon and now Rypien again.

Gannon, who was benched in Minnesota last year when the team was 8-3, said: "If you haven't been in this situation before, it can be a problem. I've been in this situation and I've matured because of it."

For Rypien, who was the MVP of the Super Bowl just two years ago, it might be the last chance to save his $3 million salary and remain part of the team's future. There has been speculation the Redskins will be looking for a free-agent quarterback in the off-season.

"I'm excited to be back," Rypien said. "I've never, ever lost that thought that I'd be back here. What the league has done now has taken away, because of the salary cap, the one word that's synonymous with the Redskins over the years -- loyalty. It's always in the back of your mind that they might not have plans for you."

Even if he's not in the Redskins' plans, he would like to catch the eye of some other teams.

"I'm not saying I want to be looked at by anyone. [But] if that's the scenario, you want to go out with a bang and try to play well," he said.

He added: "A lot of times you're known for your last game. Maybe for this ballclub, they'll remember the last three. I don't think I've ever doubted myself. It's just a matter that now there's other circumstances that play into whether you come back or not. Money is a big issue."

NOTE: An NFL spokesman said the league would not get involved in the dispute between the Redskins and Joe Gibbs on the issue of whether he's free to talk to the expansion Carolina Panthers before Feb. 1, when contracts expire. Owner Jack Kent Cooke says that Gibbs, who quit March 5, is bound to the Redskins for two years. Gibbs insists he's free to talk to other teams.

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