- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier yesterday said he is considering playing both Danny Wuerffel and Patrick Ramsey at quarterback against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, and benched passer Shane Matthews said he will consider retiring after this season.

Wuerffel appears to have the edge over Ramsey to start, but Spurrier declined to announce a decision until later this week. Spurrier said each could play half the game.

The change is the fourth at quarterback for the Redskins in a season marked by sputtering offense and few victories. It also is the second time that Matthews, the opening-day starter, has been demoted to the No.3 quarterback. Matthews struggled over the past three games, two of them losses.

"Sometimes when we played our best we told each of them they had a half in preseason," Spurrier said. "Can you do that in regular season? We're going to get them both ready to play. Mentally, Danny Wuerffel is more knowledgeable over what to do, but Patrick has been around quite a bit. He should be aware of things more than when he was playing earlier."

Meanwhile, safety Sam Shade was placed on injured reserve because of a herniated disc in his neck. Shade met with doctors yesterday after missing one game. Shade, who lost his job as a starter earlier this season, said doctors told him he'd miss at least two weeks.

"They need to get someone healthy in there," Shade said. "Maybe if there were 10 games left they'd wait."

The Redskins released defensive end Otis Leverette and promoted safety Ricot Joseph and defensive lineman Bernard Jackson from the practice squad. They also plan to sign a punter if Bryan Barker's sprained left ankle doesn't improve by Thursday. Kicker James Tuthill is the emergency punter, but the Redskins recently worked out five punters. Tight end Walter Rasby also may be limited this week by an abdominal strain.

Spurrier declined to offer long-term assurances to any of his quarterbacks in what has been the most turnover-heavy season at the position since 1994, when the Redskins also made four changes. The Redskins have started an NFL-high 14 different quarterbacks since 1993, and yet another move is imminent unless the offensive slump ends.

"When you have a 16-game season I don't think you can say [anyones] our guy the rest of the year," Spurrier said. "We need to see what the other two can do. We're not conceding anything, but we need to get a spark going somehow. We need to have something exciting happen to our team. We're searching for it right now."

Wuerffel, the No.2 passer, didn't play in the 19-17 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. Wuerffel had missed the previous five games because of a sprained shoulder and practiced last week for the first time since he was hurt on the first series of his start against the Tennessee Titans on Oct.6.

"It was exciting for me to throw the ball pretty good again," he said. "I feel good enough to compete. If it had been any other strained muscle I probably could have played, but it was the worst spot."

Ramsey came off the bench to lead the Redskins to a 31-14 win at Tennessee but committed seven turnovers and was sacked 13 times in two ensuing losses. The first-rounder is considered the team's starter in the long term, especially once the Redskins are eliminated from the playoffs.

"I'm always learning lot of run checks, situationals, two minutes," Ramsey said. "I don't stop [learning] even when someone else is playing."

Matthews, a free agent after this season, said he may retire after this season after a 10-year career spent with three teams. He said he is simply tired of a journeyman's career now that his oldest child has started first grade.

"I've made it longer than most people expected, and my wife and kids are tired of moving around," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen. I don't look to the future."

Matthews was benched after the Redskins started 1-2, then returned after Washington went 1-2 behind Wuerffel and Ramsey. However, two straight losses are forcing the Redskins (4-6) to make changes before Washington is eliminated from contention for the final wild-card berth.

Matthews has completed a career-low 52.3 percent of his passes, though his 72.6 rating nearly matched the 72.3 he posted in four games last year with Chicago. As with his earlier demotion, Matthews felt yesterday's wasn't justified.

"I played as hard as I could the last few weeks," he said. "I've never thrown as many incompletions. It's just baffled me. It's a combination of everything. I'm not happy with the decision. I'm not playing as bad as the stats indicate."

Said Wuerffel: "Shane has played well. He's not played poorly. It's not his fault, but the way Spurrier coaches when things are struggling you need to give other people a chance."

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