'Skins play wait-and-see with Brunell's hamstring

Gibbs: Veteran QB won't start if he doesn't practice

Pro Football

September 21, 2004|By Jeff Barker | Jeff Barker,SUN STAFF

ASHBURN, Va. - When he named Mark Brunell as his starting quarterback last month, Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was quick to emphasize that backup Patrick Ramsey would be perpetually "one play away" from seeing action.

Gibbs couldn't have known that play would end up coming as soon as the second week of the NFL season.

Brunell, who limped to the sideline in the third quarter of Sunday's 20-14 loss to the New York Giants, suffered a hamstring strain that could cause him to miss all or part of Monday night's contest against the Dallas Cowboys, Gibbs said yesterday.

"I talked to him this morning and he said, `I don't know,' Gibbs said of Brunell. "[He] said, `You know, it's substantial, it's a pretty good hamstring,' so we're just going to see."

Trainer Bubba Tyer called the strain "mild to moderate," but that could be enough to keep Brunell out.

Brunell, 34, needs to recuperate quickly enough so he can practice, or else Gibbs won't start him. "He'd have to have some practice work and look real good," the coach said.

A decision could come after practice today or Thursday. Players have tomorrow off.

Ramsey looked good at times against the Giants, leading the Redskins on a 49-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, capping it with a 13-yard scoring pass to Clinton Portis. But Ramsey also threw three interceptions, which he attributed in part to being overeager to get the ball downfield. "I probably felt a little more sense of urgency than was necessary given the score," Ramsey said after the game.

Gibbs expressed faith in Ramsey yesterday, saying of the third-year player: "He made some plays. I think at times we dropped things and [did] other things ... where he could have looked even better and could have brought us back.

"We'll see how everything goes with Mark, but if you had to guess right now I'd say he [Ramsey] is going to probably be playing a lot this weekend," the coach said.

Sunday's loss, in which Washington committed seven turnovers, was sobering to Redskins fans, given all the attention paid to Gibbs' return this season after an 11-year absence from the NFL.

The Hall of Fame coach said he hoped most people understood that his presence alone wouldn't guarantee success.

"I've got to tell you the truth, I'm kind of fed up with that. I'm starting over. There are coaches in this league [who have] been there 12 years, doing great things. I haven't been," Gibbs said "Players make the difference and making great plays makes the difference. This game [against the Giants] we showed that if we don't play smart, we can't win a football game. My part's a small part of it. I think people know that."

Gibbs praised Washington's defense, which has given up one touchdown drive this season. Fumbles by Washington's offense have resulted in two more touchdown plays by Redskins opponents.

On Sunday, the Redskins offense cost the team a score when a false start was called on offensive tackle Chris Samuels on an apparent touchdown run by Clinton Portis in the third quarter.

But Samuels said afterward that he wasn't the culprit and that he didn't know who was, if anybody.

After seeing the game tape yesterday, Gibbs said, "I don't know how you can call that. It definitely was not Chris Samuels. I rate that as a bad call."

NOTES: Defensive end Phillip Daniels could be out two to four weeks after suffering a groin strain ... Kicker John Hall strained the hamstring in his non-kicking leg and is day-to-day ... Linebacker LaVar Arrington's practice time may be restricted due to a knee sprain, but he is expected to play Monday.

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