Wuerffel seen likely as Redskins starter

Quarterback's experience means edge over Ramsey

Matthews will get a `rest'

Pro Football

October 01, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - All signs point to quarterback Danny Wuerffel making his first start in four seasons when the Washington Redskins visit the Tennessee Titans Sunday.

Washington coach Steve Spurrier wouldn't say as much, but considering that Wuerffel's only competition for the starting role, rookie Patrick Ramsey, has been inactive for the first three games, Wuerffel's experience in six starts for the New Orleans Saints in 1997-98 gives him the edge.

Wuerffel and Ramsey split snaps with the first team during practice last week and yesterday. Spurrier said both would play against Tennessee.

But former starter Shane Matthews said he thought Wuerffel would get the nod. "It will probably be Danny, I would think," Matthews said. "Who knows?"

What is certain is that Matthews will be the third - and usually inactive - quarterback Sunday. Matthews, who is 1-2 as the Redskins starter and earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors after Week 1, was informed by Spurrier yesterday that he would be benched to ease an ailing back and left shoulder.

Matthews wasn't buying it.

"I could've played if we had a game [Sunday]," he said. "You're going to get beat up. You just try to get as much treatment as you can and get healthy as quickly as possible. That's what I've tried to do, but he decided to go in a different direction."

Matthews completed 28 of 40 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening win over the Arizona Cardinals, but since then has connected on just 27 of 50 attempts for 231 yards and one touchdown in losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.

Spurrier inserted Wuerffel in the second halves of both losses, but the 1996 Heisman Trophy winner is just 7-for-11 for 71 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Still, Spurrier has said that Wuerffel deserves a shot to prove his worth in the NFL and that the coaches are anxious to see what Ramsey can do.

"We know what [Matthews] can do," Spurrier said. "Now we need to find out what these other two quarterbacks here can do."

Wuerffel left Redskins Park without commenting, but Ramsey said he is ready to play.

"I'm going to practice and prepare as if I'm going to play," the first-round pick from Tulane said. "And if I do, I hope to go in there and play well. If I don't, I'll be better prepared for the next opportunity."

Spurrier made a change at wide receiver yesterday, replacing Derrius Thompson with Kevin Lockett as the team's No. 2 receiver opposite Rod Gardner.

Thompson, a third-year player who impressed the coaches with 16 catches for 307 yards and four touchdowns during the preseason, has just seven receptions for 75 yards and one score this season.

Lockett has caught just four passes for 39 yards and a touchdown, but six years of experience in the league and a solid week of practice convinced Spurrier to make the switch.

"I wasn't sure if he was going to start me or not, but I think it's a great opportunity for me," said Lockett, who will be making his first start since the 2000 season with Kansas City. "In this type of offense, guys catch a lot of balls. I'm going to have an opportunity to be out there quite a bit."

NOTES: Linebacker LaVar Arrington, who was reportedly ejected by an official for his remarks during the second quarter of then-No. 12 Penn State's 42-35 overtime loss to Iowa Saturday, set the record straight yesterday. "I didn't get ejected. I walked off," Arrington said. "I wasn't harassing the guy all game or anything. I asked him one time: Was he watching the game? And that was it. ... The way he came running up after me, it looked like he still wanted to try and put some pads on or something. I don't know. I don't know him. He's nobody to me, but he was messing up some calls. I guess he was frustrated that he was missing some calls. I guess he felt he was making himself do something by making a call on me, who wasn't even in the game." ... Defensive tackles Daryl Gardener (flu) and Dan Wilkinson (sprained right wrist) returned to practice yesterday. Tight end Walter Rasby, who injured his knee in the fourth preseason game against Tampa Bay, also participated in practice and could play Sunday, Spurrier said.

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