- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 23, 2002

CARLISLE, Pa. Washington Redskins quarterback Sage Rosenfels is expected to start the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug.3. However, coach Steve Spurrier maintained yesterday the three-way passing competition won't be decided until late in the preseason.
Spurrier said Rosenfels will work with the first team when training camp begins today because he's the only returning Redskins passer. However, Spurrier will rotate quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel with the starting offense while rookie Patrick Ramsey will get some time with the first unit once he signs.
Matthews will start against Carolina on Aug.10 and Danny Wuerffel opens against Tampa Bay on Aug.24. Spurrier was undecided who will start against Pittsburgh on Aug.17. Whoever earns the job will start the preseason finale against New England on Aug.29.
"You go by practice. You go by games. You go by all you see," Spurrier said of choosing a starter. "We'll rotate all three [players]. If it all evens out."
Spurrier doesn't plan to work starters extensively during the five-game preseason to avoid injuries. Rookies and reserves will largely play against San Francisco.
"You'd be a fool to get some of your starters hurt in the preseason," Spurrier said. "My experience in college is we don't have preseason games. We just go play. They should know how to play after three weeks of practice. You have to save your guys and save them in the preseason."
Conversely, Spurrier said he plans to win the preseason games despite using his starters less than opponents.
"We're going to try to win, but I don't know who all will be out there," he said. "[Starters] will be out there a little bit, but not wearing themselves out."
Unlike Marty Schottenheimer's intense camp last year, Spurrier plans more light practices with full contact perhaps once daily. After 26 offseason practices, he felt the team needs more mental than physical preparation.
"We have to practice bumping heads a little bit. We have to put on the pads a little bit," Spurrier said. "You try to seek balance in everything you do. My experience [as an NFL player] was it really wasn't as big a deal as the total preparation of the entire season. Our players learned a lot in coaching sessions. We'll try to pace ourselves through so we're ready when the real season comes up."
Several players conceded some uncertainty over Spurrier's style. With the third straight camp under a different coach, veterans have learned to be flexible.
"You just don't know what to expect," offensive tackle Jon Jansen said. "The first time around everybody learns. It would be easier if we had some consistency."
Said guard Kipp Vickers: "I don't see a lot of griping and complaining [among teammates]. They just work."
Spurrier said he expects the Redskins to win the NFC East for the first time since 1999. He can't imagine even repeating the 8-8 finish of the past two years in his first season.
"I don't know how coaches say 'We hope to be .500,'" Spurrier said. "You have to put your expectations as high as you think they can go. Don't be foolish and say 'We're going to win it all.' Say 'We're good enough to win our division and get into the playoffs.' We think we have a very good team, but until we go like a very good team it's all hypothetical."
Spurrier said signing a couple free agents during camp was possible, but he'd rather work with the current roster.
"I would not like to get a whole bunch of new faces and start the season," he said.
Meanwhile, deep snapper Ethan Albright no longer appears vulnerable because of salary cap restrictions. While Albright must still fend off rookie Jeff Grau, the decision is no longer financially based.
"If they're going to put me in pads and on the field, they're planning on keeping me," Albright said. "Hopefully, I'll make it a hardest decision."

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