Spurrier drops back to Matthews as his QB

Rookie Ramsey benched after back-to-back losses

Redskins notebook

October 22, 2002|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier has spun the quarterback carousel again and returned the starting role to veteran Shane Matthews.

Spurrier announced his decision to insert Matthews over rookie Patrick Ramsey at his weekly news conference yesterday, but declined to get into the specific reasons for the switch.

"All I'm going to say is we believe [Matthews] gives us the best chance to win as far as taking care of the ball, throwing the ball where it's supposed to go, decisions, everything about playing the position," Spurrier said. "We think he's our best right now."

Matthews, who will open Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts at FedEx Field, will be the team's fourth starter since the season began.

He opened the season as the No. 1 quarterback for Washington's first three games, completing 61.1 percent of his passes for 558 yards and four touchdowns en route to the team's 1-2 start.

But Spurrier demoted Matthews after a 10-point loss to San Francisco on Sept. 22, in part because Matthews had a bruised shoulder and back pain.

The coach turned to Danny Wuerffel, who lasted one series against the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 6 before succumbing to a shoulder injury. Ramsey replaced Wuerffel and recorded a 268-yard, two-touchdown performance that helped the Redskins earn a 17-point victory.

Ramsey has yet to return to that form. In two games since, Ramsey has thrown one touchdown against four interceptions, three fumbles and 13 sacks.

"He's obviously not as prepared as he should be," Spurrier said, blaming himself and his staff for not helping the Tulane graduate. "We still believe he's going to be an outstanding quarterback. But right now . . . we just feel that the veteran guy gives us the best chance."

Matthews, who has been sacked three times, thrown two interceptions and fumbled once this season, drove past the media without a word.

Ramsey said he didn't envision the demotion, but said he understood. "I'm disappointed in my performance more so than in any decisions that were made," he said.

Tre Johnson returns

Seeking to plug some holes on their offensive line, the Redskins signed former guard Tre Johnson last night for the remainder of the season.

Johnson, who spent seven seasons with Washington and made a Pro Bowl appearance in 1999, said he signed the contract after passing a physical and would be willing to suit up against the Colts.

"If they let me play, I'll play," he said.

Johnson, who also visited Tampa Bay, hasn't played since being released by the Cleveland Browns two months ago. He could shore up an offensive line that has allowed 22 sacks - third-worst in the NFL so far.

Left tackle Chris Samuels underwent X-rays for an aggravated ankle sprain and a magnetic resonance imaging exam for a shoulder injury. He said the injuries would not prevent him from playing Sunday.

Right guard Brenden Stai, who missed Sunday's game due to tendinitis in his left knee, said the pain is subsiding.

Ready to go

Defensive end Renaldo Wynn said his strained right knee won't keep him from playing Sunday. ... Spurrier said wide receivers Rod Gardner and Derrius Thompson would start.

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