- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 25, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. Illness forced Washington Redskins quarterback Danny Wuerffel the apparent front-runner in the race to start to be scratched from last night's preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Shane Matthews started in Wuerffel's place, and rookie Patrick Ramsey was scheduled to make his Redskins debut in relief. Ramsey, the draft's 32nd overall pick, had not played in the preseason because of a 16-day holdout and his resulting unfamiliarity with the offense.
Wide receiver Kevin Lockett was listed as the emergency third quarterback.
Wuerffel's illness came two days after Washington traded Sage Rosenfels, a 2001 fourth-round draft pick, to Miami for a conditional seventh-round pick next year. The compensation for Rosenfels is contingent upon him making the 53-man roster; if he plays 50 percent of the Dolphins' offensive snaps, Washington would receive a 2004 fifth-round selection.
Wuerffel, Matthews and Rosenfels all had fairly similar statistics through the first three preseason games. Wuerffel's rating (117.4) was the highest, followed by Rosenfels (103.6) and Matthews (86.6).
However, none of the three played well against starting defenses. Matthews guided the Redskins to a field goal against Carolina's first-stringers; those points were the only ones Washington had scored against starters entering last night.
That Aug.10 victory at Carolina represented Matthews' other preseason start. Rosenfels started the opener against San Francisco in Osaka, Japan, and Wuerffel started last weekend against Pittsburgh.
Matthews said whether he or Wuerffel gets the starting nod, neither should be too comfortable. Coach Steve Spurrier could name the regular-season starter before the Redskins play New England on Thursday in the preseason finale.
"It doesn't matter who the starter is opening day," Matthews said last week. "You better be ready to play. Things change quickly. You start sputtering around here, you'll be on the bench."
Right guard Brenden Stai, acquired in a trade Thursday with Detroit, is set to join the Redskins tonight and begin practice tomorrow. James Tuthill and Jamie Rheem were on hand to share the kicking duties with Brett Conway sidelined by a hip flexor.
Injured in the first half of last night's game were offensive lineman Rod Jones (sprained right elbow), tight end Walter Rasby (sprained left knee) and linebacker Eddie Mason (sprained right shoulder).

Fun 'n' what?
Matthews started three years in Florida's Fun'n'Gun offense, but even he had trouble describing what the term meant.
"It's backdoor football. Having a lot of fun. Putting a lot of points on the board. Throwing it around," Matthews said. "If you go out and execute it, you're going to put up some points."

Hats off to Spurrier
"The Big Sombrero" has been replaced by a stadium with a pirate ship, but Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier still received a warm homecoming last night.
Locals remembered the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers expansion quarterback whose team finished with an 0-14 mark. Later, Spurrier led the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits to the playoffs twice as a first-time coach. Spurrier used to stroll through tailgate parties back then, grabbing a cold drink on the way to his car.
There were also plenty of Gators fans who cheered the self-described"Ball coach" in his return to Florida after winning seven Southeastern Conference titles and finishing second three times during 12 seasons with the Gators. The Bucs claimed they could have sold 150,000 seats because of Spurrier supporters crowding Raymond James Stadium.
Spurrier recalled the fun of coaching the underdog Bandits, who went 11-7 and 14-4 before finishing 10-8 before the spring league folded after 1985. The Bandits were the first pro team with a 4,000-yard passer and two 1,000-yard runners as the former Duke offensive coordinator unveiled his first version of the Fun'n'Gun.
"A lot of people did not give us much of a chance," Spurrier said. "I think we had the lowest-paid players and the lowest-paid coaches. We weren't considered to be much of a threat, but we had a good team. We had a lot of players that were just waiting for opportunities to play: [receiver] Eric Truvillion, [receiver] Willie Gillespie, [linebacker] Kelly Kirchbaum and [nose tackle] Fred Nordgren. It was some good, fun times."
The USFL didn't return in 1986 after winning only $3 in damages from the NFL in its antitrust suit. Spurrier went on to turn out winners at Duke and Florida, with his first pro coaching experience largely forgotten by football fans.
"The NFL people have never considered the USFL very much, even though a lot of our coaches and our players went on to be successful in the NFL," he said. "There was a feeling that [the USFL] wasn't big-time pro football. But that was a long time ago. Since I've coached in college 15 years since then, a lot of that has been forgotten."
Spurrier said returning to the pros has given him a fresh approach, adding, "I think I've been energized every year, but [the NFL] is a different environment, in a new league. Sometimes in life we all need a new challenge, do something different. I read where a lot of people say if you coach more than 10 years at one place, it's too long because your routine becomes very similar maybe gets boring to a lot of people. Ten, 12 years is plenty at any one place."

Back with Brad
The Redskins faced quarterback Brad Johnson for the first time since letting him depart to the Bucs during the 2001 offseason. Johnson went to the 1999 Pro Bowl and led Washington to its most recent playoff berth that season but the club obtained Jeff George, did not negotiate an extension with Johnson and never had a chance at keeping him once he hit free agency.
Though he has been gone for more than a year, Johnson's toughness lingered in the minds of many Redskins.
"Brad can take a hit," linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "He has that heart to compete and to make play when you know you're going to get the daylights knocked out of you. That speaks volumes of that person's heart, and Brad Johnson is one of those guys who will stand in and make the throw."
But the Redskins' defense didn't believe it had an edge against Johnson. Five starters Arrington, tackle Dan Wilkinson, safety Sam Shade, end Bruce Smith and cornerback Champ Bailey were with the Redskins during Johnson's two-year tenure, and they said the experience wasn't helpful when preparing for the game.
"When we practiced against him, it was more like preseason and game planning," Bailey said. "I can't really remember him that well because we've been through a lot [since]."

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