- The Washington Times - Friday, August 9, 2002

CARLISLE, Pa. By the end of Patrick Ramsey's first Washington Redskins training camp practice, he was pump-faking confidently and then rifling a spiral between defenders to Darnerien McCants in the end zone.

Earlier, the rookie quarterback endured a series of botched attempts on deep routes. And shortly after his touchdown to McCants came an interception by Fred Smoot.

But overall Ramsey didn't seem too far off following a 16-day holdout. And some rookie hazing afterward helped atone for his absence, as Redskins veterans secured him to one of Biddle Field's goalposts with a dozen rolls of athletic and masking tape.

"I felt like I threw pretty well," Ramsey said, conducting his interview while still mummified behind the end zone. "I felt good physically, but again, it's all about the timing, the repetition, the muscle memory. I've got to train my body to go in the right direction."

Ramsey's work came primarily with the scout team, which pretended to be Carolina's offense to get Washington's defense ready for tomorrow's preseason game. Ramsey won't play in that exhibition and his holdout seemed to eliminate his chance to start at the beginning of this season, but he will get some playing time before the Sept.8 opener.

"We'll try to get him ready for work before the exhibition season is over," coach Steve Spurrier said. "He knows pretty much what's going on. He's a little behind."

Ramsey's first day at camp ended an odyssey that began when he was selected 32nd overall in April's draft. He struggled early in offseason practices, then played well enough to earn a shot at the job, then dug in on a lengthy holdout, then nearly was traded to the Chicago Bears Tuesday night, then arrived here Wednesday to sign a five-year, $5.7million deal.

His first evening wasn't entirely smooth, either. Ramsey didn't get to meet with assistant quarterbacks coach Noah Brindise because the team had gotten the night off, and his luggage hadn't made the plane to Harrisburg. Yesterday he seemed relieved to finally get on the field and, strangely, to suffer the goalpost ignominy.

"It's almost an honor," he said of the hazing. "You've grown up seeing this happen to rookies and now it's your turn."

In practice his strong arm once again stood out alongside Shane Matthews (tomorrow's starter), Sage Rosenfels and Danny Wuerffel. Short passes hit their targets with ease, though on longer ones Ramsey often struggled with his timing. At times he could be seen throwing the same pass with dramatically different arcs as he searched for a rhythm.

"He's probably just a little unsure right now," receiver Kevin Lockett said. "But the good thing is he has the physical attributes to throw either [the arcing pass or the line drive]."

One corner route in individual drills proved particularly difficult. Ramsey threw his first pass out of bounds beyond Justin Skaggs, then his second far to the other side of Emmett Johnson. The ugly throws were in sharp contrast to several outstanding ones.

"He throws a hard ball, so it's either right on target or off-target pretty bad," receiver Jacquez Green said. "But that's to be expected early on in camp."

In team work, Ramsey appeared to elevate his play. He completed nearly every throw in early 11-on-11 work (all drills were non-contact; players were in shorts), then threaded several small openings in a late goal-line drill.

"It all kind of came back to me maybe not the minor details, but a lot of it has come back to me," Ramsey said.

Ramsey believes the team hasn't installed much new since offseason practices but that it has moved forward in its quality of play. And that undoubtedly is true: In recent weeks the three veteran quarterbacks have improved significantly, and defenders like Smoot are even quicker to step in front of passes.

The second-year cornerback, however, knows the rookie will catch up soon enough and eliminate many of yesterday's mediocre throws.

"Put it like this," Smoot said. "Talent's something you can't replace, and he's got talent."

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