Spurrier is silent on 'Skins' starting QB

Coach's announcement won't be until next week

Pro Football

September 27, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Steve Spurrier won't be budged, prodded or persuaded into announcing the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 6 until he is good and ready.

The coach proved that yesterday when he refused to answer - on three occasions - whether this week's run of practices had given him a clearer picture of the quarterback race among Shane Matthews, Danny Wuerffel and Patrick Ramsey.

"No, we'll announce it next week," Spurrier said.

On the second attempt, he replied: "We'll see what happens next week. We don't need to make any announcements until next week sometime."

Spurrier ended the matter on the third try by saying: "I'm not answering that."

But Spurrier did seem to indicate Matthews, the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week in Week 1, may be on the sideline rather than under center.

Matthews, who bruised his non-throwing shoulder in a 37-7 drubbing by the Philadelphia Eagles on Sept. 16, was drilled by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Andre Carter in the third quarter of Sunday's 20-10 loss.

Matthews not only reinjured his shoulder on the late hit - which was flagged for a 15-yard penalty - but he also has been bothered by a bruised chest and stiff back since getting tagged. Spurrier said he could not be certain that Matthews, who has been absent this week, would return to practice Monday.

"When you look at Shane, he's not a big, strong guy," Spurrier said of the 6-foot-3, 196-pound quarterback. "He may be a little bit better coming off the bench instead of getting hit so often."

Spurrier has said Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy under Spurrier at the University of Florida in 1996, deserved more opportunities to prove his worth than the three quarters of play he has received in mostly clean-up duty.

"We've struggled, and certainly I haven't had any success," said Wuerffel, who has completed seven of 11 passes for 71 yards, been sacked five times and thrown two interceptions this season. "I feel real comfortable with what I can or can't do. I'm looking forward to a great chance to have opportunities to do well."

Wuerffel has been splitting snaps at practice with Ramsey, the final first-round pick in this year's draft. Ramsey said he isn't antsy about waiting for Spurrier's decision.

"Whenever I play well enough to enable Coach to put me on the field, that's when it's time," said Ramsey, who completed 50 percent (17-for-34) of his throws for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the preseason. "The man knows quarterbacks as well as anybody, and I totally respect and trust his decision."

While Rod Gardner and Derrius Thompson are still the starting wide receivers, Spurrier did say yesterday it was time to give Kevin Lockett and Chris Doering more playing time.

Neither has made a significant impact this season - Lockett has caught four passes for 39 yards and a touchdown, and Doering has one reception for 13 yards - but Gardner and Thompson have combined for just eight catches for 109 yards in Washington's past two games.

"I'm learning all the little tidbits and ins and outs of this offense," said Lockett, a sixth-year veteran who joined the Redskins last season. "I think that if I can get the ball in my hands, I can help this team's offense move the ball, help us get in the end zone and help us win."

Doering led the team during the preseason in receptions with 19 and amassed 246 yards in a passing system that he grew familiar with as a three-year starter at Florida from 1994 to 1996.

"I think it's hard at first getting used to" the routes that require precision and timing, Doering said. "That's the way I've been coached since when I was with [Spurrier] in college. So it comes a little bit more naturally to me."

NOTE: Besides Matthews, defensive tackles Dan Wilkinson (sprained wrist) and Daryl Gardener (flu) missed yesterday's practice. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels watched from the sidelines to rest a pulled groin muscle and bruised thigh.

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