Redskins' Ramsey not conceding to Brunell

But competition's friendly at QB, says 2003's starter

Pro Football

May 03, 2004|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - By most accounts, quarterbacks Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell are friends.

They're not adversaries who will hide the other's playbook to curry favor with the Washington Redskins' coaching staff, and they're not rivals who ignore each other.

But make no mistake. Ramsey, the team's starter for much of last season, has no intention of being a backup.

"It's not something I'm going to contemplate right now," Ramsey said after the third and final day of minicamp yesterday at Redskins Park. "We're not out to get one another. We're just out there to compete, and the best guy is going to win."

Getting into football shape after offseason foot surgery is Ramsey's first priority, but winning the starter's role is certainly a significant concern for the third-year player from Tulane.

Ramsey, who was selected by Washington with the final pick on the first round of the 2002 NFL draft, had been tabbed by former Redskins coach Steve Spurrier as the team's future.

Since Dec. 15, 2002, Ramsey had started 14 consecutive games before suffering a bone bruise in his right foot that forced him to miss the final five weeks of the 2003 season.

In two seasons, Ramsey has completed 52.5 percent of his passes (296 of 564) for 3,705 yards and 23 touchdowns.

But Spurrier resigned three days after the team's final game last season, and Joe Gibbs returned as head coach.

Gibbs, who has a track record for relying on veteran quarterbacks, actively sought out Brunell, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who spent last year backing up Byron Leftwich for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

In his 11-year career, Brunell has connected on 2,196 of 3,643 passes for 25,793 yards and 144 touchdowns, and his quarterback rating of 85.2 is the 11th best in NFL history.

Washington sent a third-round pick in last month's draft to the Jaguars for Brunell, who signed a seven-year, $43 million contract (with an $8.6 million signing bonus) and was told that he would compete with Ramsey for the starting position.

Although some have inferred that the Redskins would not sign a player to such a hefty contract to be the backup, quarterbacks coach Jack Burns said any speculation that Brunell is the starter is erroneous.

"There's no substance to it," he said. "We'll make our decision based on what's best for our team."

The team's second of three minicamps offered little insight into the competition. Ramsey - who participated in the first minicamp only sporadically to protect his healing foot - was under center with the first team Friday, and Brunell started with the first team Saturday. (A 75-minute portion of yesterday's two-hour practice was closed to the media.)

"I think we feel real good about our quarterbacks," Gibbs said, noting that third-stringer Tim Hasselbeck performed decently. "Patrick looked very good and solid and so did Mark. ... I think they're working hard and doing good."

Ramsey said he will continue to help Brunell - who raced past reporters yesterday to catch a flight - adjust to life in Washington. The two hang out often on their own time and played golf at an area course.

"I don't view it in any special way," Ramsey said of his competition with Brunell. "I'll just try to go out there and execute as best as I can. ... Make plays, make good decisions, lead our team - I think that's essentially what it's going to take, and I'm going to do everything I can to be that guy."

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