Hasselbeck ready, willing if Ramsey unable

November 21, 2003|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - Washington Redskins quarterback Tim Hasselbeck's first NFL start could come down to, of all things, a foot - namely, Patrick Ramsey's.

Ramsey, the NFC's fifth-leading passer, is still hobbled by what team officials said is a bone bruise in his right foot, and his status for Sunday night's game at Miami is questionable.

But Ramsey, who was hurt in August during training camp and has endured lingering pain since, said he plans to start.

"This has been something we've dealt with all year," said Ramsey, who wore a protective boot and did not practice Wednesday. "This is the worst of it so far, and it's getting better. It's better than it was [Tuesday]. This year thus far, I've been able to play with it, and I don't foresee anything different."

Even Hasselbeck, a journeyman who has thrown just three NFL passes in his career, said he is assuming that he will be the backup as he has been for Washington's past three games.

"I know his foot is hurting him a lot, but he's such a competitor and he's such a tough guy that ... it's going to take a lot to keep him off the field," Hasselbeck said. "My guess is that he'll be ready to go, but if not, I'll be ready to do the same."

Ramsey gives the Redskins (4-6) the best chance to end a skid that includes five losses in six contests. The second-year quarterback from Tulane has thrown for 2,159 yards and 14 touchdowns - which ties him for fourth in the NFC with the Seahawks' Matt Hasselbeck, Tim's older brother.

Coach Steve Spurrier's Fun `N' Gun offense can employ multi-receiver sets that disperse all over the field to take advantage of Ramsey's arm strength.

Spurrier dismissed the notion of pulling Ramsey this week to let him rest for the Nov. 30 home game against New Orleans.

"If Patrick's healthy, he's going to play," Spurrier said. "We're still believing that something good is going to happen. We're still believing that we can start winning our close games and play better and coach better and all those things."

But the injury - which Ramsey said is an aggravation of a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot - hampers Ramsey's ability to stop quickly as he drops back in the pocket and push off when he steps forward to release a pass.

The pain, which flared up the past two weeks, was so intense after Sunday's 20-17 loss to the Carolina Panthers that Ramsey received his first-ever cortisone injection on Monday.

That's why Hasselbeck took all the snaps with the first team during Wednesday's practice. Hasselbeck, who bounced around with four clubs before Washington signed him to a free-agent contract on Oct. 22, doesn't have Ramsey's arm strength, but Spurrier and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said that Hasselbeck is a quick study.

"My emphasis is going to be trying to learn things and make [the coaches] feel as comfortable as possible with calling whatever is in the game plan," Hasselbeck said. "When you're a backup, getting the opportunity to play doesn't happen very often. If it does arise this week, I'm going to try to do the best I can with it."

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