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Down and out?

Patrick Ramsey's future with the Washington Redskins seemed uncertain yesterday after coach Joe Gibbs praised the progress of rookie quarterback Jason Campbell.

The quarterback situation behind starter Mark Brunell was one of many topics Gibbs addressed during his wrap-up press conference at Redskin Park two days after the team's season ended at 11-7 with a 20-10 playoff loss in Seattle.

While Gibbs dodged queries about LaVar Arrington's future and the need to upgrade the receiver position behind Santana Moss, he gushed about Campbell for nearly three minutes, an indication Gibbs would be comfortable with him as the backup next year. That, of course, would make Ramsey expendable.

Campbell, whom the Redskins selected No.25 overall last year, played zero snaps during the regular season.

"Had Jason been thrust into things this year, I'm confident he would have played well," Gibbs said. "Do I think it was good he got to sit a whole year? Yes. ... We've seen a lot out of him. Now he needs to play. And we'll get into that."

Ramsey, whom the Redskins chose with their first-round pick in 2002, started the opener against Chicago but lasted only 26 snaps. He is expected to request a trade in the coming weeks.

"Patrick and I had a good talk, and he felt a little bit like I did -- the season is just over with, and he hasn't had much chance to think about anything, and I hadn't either," Gibbs said. "What we agreed to do is talk over the next few weeks. He'll probably do some thinking, I'll do some thinking and we'll do some talking."

The read-between-the-lines analysis: If Ramsey requests a trade this offseason, the Redskins likely will accommodate him -- if they get a fair offer -- because they feel Campbell is ready to back up Brunell.

"Obviously, it's going to be interesting," center Casey Rabach said. "Patrick has a great future in this league, and I would hate to see him go, but that's what might have to happen because of his situation."

Ramsey, who will turn 27 on Feb. 14 and is 10-14 as a starter, completed 15 of 25 passes for 279 yards this season.

"I'd like to play," he said. "That was my concern when everything took place. I would like to play, and if I'm going to develop in this league as a quarterback and play well, it needs to start soon.

"We'll see what everybody has planned, and we'll talk to [Gibbs] throughout the offseason. I don't really know the situation yet. Nothing has really unfolded."

The final six games of the season, some thought, made trading Ramsey less likely. Brunell had nine touchdowns and six interceptions, and the offense managed only two touchdowns in two playoff games, suggesting it would be wise to keep Ramsey around considering Brunell will be 36 in September. But Gibbs sounds confident Brunell's performance and health will hold up for another season and that Campbell is prepared to be No. 2.

Gibbs said he jokingly told Campbell yesterday, "Time to take the hat and throw it away. It's time to go to work and time to earn your money."

The coach added, "In my experience, whether it was [Stan] Humphries or [Mark] Rypien or Jay Schroeder, when they went through the process [of watching] and then got put in there, they were amazingly prepared. You watch somebody else [play], and you can learn."

Said Campbell: "I feel like [I'm ready to be No. 2]. I'm going to work hard and look forward to any opportunity that presents itself. ... [Sitting all season] was tough because you don't get the chance to run your teams' plays. But at the same time, you're going against one of the best defenses in the NFL."

Gibbs thought so much of Campbell last season at Auburn that he traded the Redskins' first-round pick this year to move into the first round and select Campbell.

"He's very accurate, he'll be a guy that can really run the football and make plays with his feet, he has a sense of where the pocket is and he's so big he'll be hard to sack," Gibbs said. "I think he had a year where it was probably good for him to hear it, see it and go through it. I'm sure he learned a lot."

Said Brunell: "It's tough to do from the sidelines, but he made some great strides this year."

Ramsey said he also learned by watching. Following the Chicago game, his only significant action came after Brunell was injured Dec. 24 against the Giants. He was 5-for-7 for 104 yards and a touchdown.

"I really watched Mark do a lot of things," Ramsey said. "He had some really tough situations against some really good defenses and many different situations as far as having a lead and coming from behind. He did a great job all season long. I learned a lot from him in terms of checking things down -- things I know but things you would see him do -- and it would reinforce the idea I had in my head."

The only quarterback who knows his role for 2006 is Brunell, which represents a dramatic shift from this time a year ago, when Gibbs said he was committed to Ramsey.

"It's not up to us, and those are decisions made by the coaches and organization," Brunell said. "I do know that Patrick has a bright future. He's only been at this four years, and he's a guy that can certainly start and be very effective in this league. I can't say enough about him as a player."

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