Clock running for Redskins QB Ramsey

Rams game last chance in his duel with Brunell

Pro Football

August 27, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - The question seemed to nag at Patrick Ramsey like a persistent case of turf toe.

Would you be disappointed, the Washington Redskins quarterback was asked by the media following a recent practice, if you aren't the regular-season starter?

"That's kind of a crazy question because any competitor is going to be disappointed," Ramsey replied.

A short while later, the third--year quarterback was leaving the team's training facility when he spied a reporter and continued the dialogue: "Was that a dumb question? Would you be disappointed if you couldn't cover the team?"

Ramsey didn't look angry when he said it, just bemused.

So it goes with the Redskins' quarterback competition, in which Ramsey, who is competing hard with newcomer Mark Brunell, always seems to say the right things, but still manages to convey he's had a trying summer.

Ramsey, who started 11 games last season until sidelined by a foot injury, gets another shot tonight when the Redskins play the St. Louis Rams in preseason game No. 4. Coach Joe Gibbs has been alternating Ramsey and Brunell as the starter during the preseason, and this is Ramsey's last shot.

Ramsey said he is getting more comfortable with Gibbs' offense, but his preaseason statistics include just 10 completions in 27 attempts, with no touchdowns. Brunell's quarterback rating of 71.9 is twice as high as Ramsey's.

Last season, Ramsey demonstrated leadership and toughness in throwing - often under duress - for 2,166 yards and 14 touchdowns. He underwent successful surgery on his right foot in December and suffered injuries to his non-throwing hand that have since healed.

Ramsey may have expected Gibbs to bring in a veteran during the offseason, but he couldn't have known his competition would be as accomplished as Brunell, a three-time Pro Bowl selection now in his 11th NFL season.

The competition has yet to become corrosive, said Tim Hasselbeck, the third-string quarterback who may also see playing time tonight.

"If you look at, like, the Rob Johnson-Doug Flutie thing, that's just disaster, and the team doesn't benefit from that," said Hasselbeck, referring to the Buffalo Bills' 2000 quarterback controversy.

"There's obviously been documentation around the league about guys who have been bitter about their situation and take everything real personal. I don't think anyone in our group is that type of guy."

It's made things easier, Ramsey said, that he gets along with Brunell. "Mark's reputation preceded him," Ramsey said. "You never hear anything negative about the guy. I pretty much get along with anybody, but he and I really get along well. We click pretty well and we have a lot of common interests."

Brunell served primarily as a backup to Byron Leftwich with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. Like Ramsey, Brunell has said he could adjust to life as a backup, if necessary: "I was real good at it last year," he joked.

Both Brunell and Ramsey are learning new offenses under Gibbs, who returned to the team this year after an 11-year hiatus. The offense is expected to prominently feature running back Clinton Portis.

"The one thing I've really started to recognize about this offense is we're not going to have a lot of third-and-longs or situations like that," Ramsey said. "We're going to be able to have third-and-three and try to be really smart with it - either hand the ball off or dump something down and try to get first downs and get the chains moving."

NOTE: Some Redskins fans have been complaining on sports talk radio and on the Internet that seats they were given in the lower bowl at FedEx Field have views that are obstructed by pillars. The team said in a news release yesterday that ticket holders were asked to inspect the seats before purchasing them and that "hundreds and hundreds" came to the stadium to look. Those that did not come were offered a computerized drawing of the seating area, the team said. In its release, the Redskins criticized a Washington Post article saying some fans were not, in fact, offered a preview of their seats. The release suggested the Post was hoarding space in the lower bowl by holding more than 200 seats. Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, the paper's assistant managing editor for sports, was out of the office yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

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