- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Washington's quarterback derby is down to two candidates. Redskins coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday that Shane Matthews, the starter for the first three weeks, has been demoted to third string for Sunday's game at Tennessee even though Matthews said his health shouldn't be an issue.
Spurrier wouldn't say when he intends to announce whether veteran Danny Wuerffel or rookie Patrick Ramsey will get the nod against the Titans. But indications are that it will be Wuerffel, who hasn't started a game in four years. Matthews thinks Wuerffel's the pick.
"We're going to have Shane rest a while," Spurrier said. "He could play if he had to, but he's still banged up a little bit. We're going to play either Danny or Patrick and see what these two can do for a while. I told Shane to stay ready. We know what he can do. Now we need to find out what these other two quarterbacks can do."
Matthews was the NFC offensive player of the week in the 31-23 season-opening victory over Arizona and is seventh in the conference with an 84.4 passer rating. However, the offense managed just 10 points in his five quarters the past two games and none in Wuerffel's three quarters.
What's more, the somewhat scrawny 6-foot-3, 196-pound Matthews suffered a badly bruised left shoulder in the Sept.16 loss to Philadelphia, a bruised chest in the Sept.22 defeat at San Francisco and had trouble getting out of bed on Sept.23 because of an aching lower back, the ailment now bothering him the most.
"Obviously I'm not very happy," said Matthews, who threw yesterday for the first time since the loss to the 49ers. "Usually you're benched when you play poorly. I feel I've played pretty well. There are a couple of throws I would like to have back, but there are a lot of quarterbacks who would like to have throws back. It's disappointing. Some of these guys are throwing three or four interceptions and they're still playing. Quarterbacks get way too much credit when you win and too much blame when you lose. But [Spurrier] made his decision. What can I do? I'm a team guy. I'll do what I can to help Danny out."
Although Spurrier had suggested last week that nine-year veteran Matthews was fragile and might be better coming off the bench, the only quarterback the coach never benched at Florida was still taken aback by his demotion.
"I was a little surprised because I feel fine," Matthews said. "I'm not 100 percent, but I was dropping back and throwing the ball pretty well today. I could have played if we had a game yesterday. You're going to take a pounding in this league. You just try to get as much treatment as you can to get healthy as quickly as possible. That's what I tried to do. But he decided to go in a different direction."
But which direction?
"I really don't know," said Ramsey, who was inactive the first three games but will now be at least next in line. "I'm going to prepare as if I'm going to play."
Wuerffel, who has split the snaps with Ramsey the past four practices, downplayed any anxiety over the impending choice.
"It's not pressure," Wuerffel said. "It's just practice. You just see what happens."
While keeping everyone in suspense about his quarterback, Spurrier did reveal that Kevin Lockett has been promoted from No.3 receiver to starter, replacing Derrius Thompson opposite Rod Gardner. Spurrier had made a point last week of praising Lockett's route-running against the 49ers even though he didn't have a catch. Lockett has four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown this season.
"I knew I would get more playing time, but I wasn't sure if I would be starting or not," said Lockett, who has started six games during his six-year career. "This is a great opportunity for me. In this offense, guys can catch a lot of balls. I know I'm going to get some balls thrown my way. I'm excited about it. I feel like I'm starting to play well, starting to get adjusted to this system getting comfortable with reading coverages and knowing exactly what the quarterback is expecting us to do each play."
After catching four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown in his first NFL start in the opening victory against Arizona, Thompson had just three catches for 30 yards in the subsequent losses to Philadelphia and San Francisco.
"Derrius hasn't done that bad," Spurrier said. "It's a combination of a lot of things."
Thompson said he has caught seven of the eight balls thrown his way, but admitted that he could have run more precise routes.

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