Ramsey's QB status not secure, but he is

Competing with Brunell for starting job, Redskin still healing, open-minded

Pro Football

March 27, 2004|By Ryan O'Halloran | Ryan O'Halloran,DAILY PRESS

ASHBURN, Va. -- Last year, he was the quarterback of the present and future, poised to lead the Washington Redskins into the playoffs.

This year, Patrick Ramsey remains an important part of the team's future, but he will need a solid training camp to fight off veteran Mark Brunell and remain the quarterback of the present.

Following the first minicamp practice of coach Joe Gibbs' return to the Redskins yesterday, Ramsey embraced the quarterback derby.

"It's a welcome competition," he said. "[The trade] was a surprise, but it wasn't a shock because this is the NFL. You're not above it in anyway.

"Coach Gibbs has assured me that it's going to be a full, open quarterback competition. From this point forward, my concern is to get healthy and, secondly, to fight for the starting job."

Still recovering from foot surgery, Ramsey was limited to individual work.

"It was what I expected and it feels good," he said. "I can tell there's some strength that needs to be regained. We're being very cautious in order to prevent a re-injury."

In the days after Brunell was acquired from Jacksonville, Ramsey hinted he wanted to be moved. Yesterday, he said no trade request was made.

"The way I felt about it is if I was coming in and Mark was going to be the starter and there would be no competition, I didn't feel like that would be a great situation for me," he said. "I was assured that was not the situation, and that's why I'm happy to still be here."

Right tackle Jon Jansen said Ramsey's attitude isn't lip service.

"He's fine," Jansen said. "Those guys are competing for a job, as am I and everybody else. We all have to go out and compete, and he plans to do that as well as anybody."

But was Ramsey's initial unhappiness understandable? "Sure," Jansen said. "Anytime they bring in somebody that's good and very capable, it's not necessarily disappointing, but there's an uneasiness there."

Ramsey's trepidation was cooled when he met with Gibbs at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Over the last couple weeks, Ramsey has shown his commitment by meeting several hours a day with Brunell to learn Gibbs' offense.

"We're going to spend a lot of time together until January," Brunell said. "From what I could tell about Pat, there's no doubt he's a good man, has a bright future and is a good football player."

Said Ramsey: "We both understand the situation. There's been no tension."

Ramsey is 6-10 as a starter and threw for 2,166 yards in 11 games last season. He has a big fan in Gibbs.

"The first thing we did was look at Patrick and we liked everything we saw. He's tough, has a good arm and is smart," Gibbs said. "We're very comfortable with him and think he has a terrific future and will win a ton of games for us."

That said, Gibbs added: "We asked, what was the perfect way to add depth at quarterback? It made sense to get somebody that had experience and had shown he could do it. We didn't think Mark would be available but when he was, it was obvious he was a good fit for us."

"It's going to be extremely competitive. The good thing is they'll play a bunch and that's when you find out."

In other Redskins news, the team told middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter to seek a trade. Trotter, an 11-year veteran who started every game last season, was not present at the opening of minicamp.

If the Redskins can't trade Trotter, he probably will be cut June 1, creating $2.5 million in salary cap space.

Trotter and his agent were informed last week of the team's plans.

At this stage of the free-agency period, Gibbs says, "We don't have any many choices," so it's conceivable Kevin Mitchell could enter training camp as the starter.

Gibbs also said it's unlikely outside linebacker LaVar Arrington will be moved to the middle.

The Daily Press of Newport News, Va., is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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