- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 13, 2002

After a dazzling debut, Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey starts against the visiting New Orleans Saints today seeking to become a franchise cornerstone instead of a one-game wonder.
The Redskins (2-2) snapped a two-game losing streak by beating Tennessee 31-14 last week after Ramsey led four touchdown drives in relief. Ramsey, only the third Redskins rookie starting passer since Norm Snead in 1961, must show he's the end to the team's decade-long search for a quarterback.
Ramsey was besieged by the media throughout the week, a sharp contrast to just two games earlier when the first-round pick was the No.3 quarterback with little prospect of playing. But two months after being taped to a goal post by teammates when he reported 16 days late to training camp in a contract holdout, the rookie suddenly has become the team leader.
"We've always had confidence in Patrick, but he was unproven," receiver Kevin Lockett said. "But once he began to play I don't think he surprised players. As he played better, everyone gained confidence not only in him but the entire offensive unit. The expression on his face shows he's not nervous, and he has a good feel of what's going on. If he didn't get rattled in his first game, I don't think you'll see him get rattled too much in his career."
Completing third-down passes under heavy pressure and slants that his predecessors couldn't, plus a toughness despite repeated hits by defenders, made Ramsey an instant favorite in the huddle. He still buys breakfast for the veteran quarterbacks as part of rookie hazing, but Ramsey has shown a seasoned temperament.
"I think [expectations] will be raised, but at the same time I'm going to raise my own expectations," Ramsey said.
Coach Steve Spurrier said Ramsey simply needs to focus on the game.
"Patrick doesn't have to worry about what he did last week or the following week he just has to play the best he can this week," Spurrier said. "There are a few decisions he has to make, certainly, but we're not asking him to go up there and change plays every snap."
Cornerback Fred Smoot faced the same challenge last year after he emerged as one of the locker room leaders as a rookie.
"I was a little bit more mouthy, but you have to show the players, coaches and crowd that you're not going to play like a rookie and rise to the occasion," Smoot said. "Once you gain the respect of these guys, you're just another one of them. [However], they're still going to call you 'rookie,' and you're still going to bring the doughnuts."
Ramsey managed to stay in his routine throughout the week despite new commitments. He still met his wife for lunch on Wednesday, attended church and found some quiet time. Watching teammates Danny Wuerffel and Shane Matthews falter has made Ramsey keenly aware that his newfound celebrity could disappear quicker than stock market profits.
"As long as you stay humble about it and not think you're the best, I don't think I'll have any problem with it," Ramsey said. "I've heard from a lot of good people, and I've tried to lay low. It's one game. I have to prove myself weekly, and we're going to try to not get too caught up in everybody telling me how good I am. Things can turn south easily."
Nonetheless, the Tennessee victory re-energized the locker room. With the offense holding the ball for 34:12, the defense delivered its best outing of the season by blanking the Titans in the second half.
"There was a little pep in our walk," defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson said. "Different atmosphere, different confidence."
Said Lockett: "Everyone's real upbeat and looking for the next challenge."
The Redskins also were inspired by the return of running back Stephen Davis from a sprained knee that team officials initially feared was a season-ending injury. Instead, he scored two second-half touchdowns against the Titans. Davis practiced little during the week but is expected to start against the Saints.
"That was leadership," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "He could have sat out the rest of the game."
Conversely, the Redskins are concentrating on the Saints' balanced offense that is rated 14th overall and in rushing and passing. Running back Deuce McAllister leads the NFC in combined yardage (606) and rushing (461). He already has three 100-yard games, tying a career-best with 123 on the ground in a 32-29 victory over Pittsburgh last week. Quarterback Aaron Brooks has 10 touchdown passes and an 83.7 rating.
"You can't have a team doing a one-two punch against you," Wilkinson said. "That would keep the defense offbeat all day. Our goal foremost is to stop their running game."


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