- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier plans to wait until Saturday to announce whether Danny Wuerffel or rookie Patrick Ramsey will start at quarterback, perhaps giving Ramsey a bit more time to prove he is ready after rapid progress over the past two weeks.

Wuerffel remains the strong favorite to start Sunday at Tennessee, but Spurrier is in no hurry to dub either passer first-string. A day after announcing that Shane Matthews won't start because of injuries the severity of which Matthews disputed Spurrier said a starter won't be named today and that "maybe Saturday morning would be a good time."

It was unclear exactly why Spurrier wants to wait so long. He flatly denied seeking any competitive advantage.

"[The Titans are] not worried about who plays quarterback for the Redskins," Spurrier said. "Hopefully, someday we'll have an established player in there that we all can sort of know what he does. We're just not in that position right now."

But asked whether he wants to get a better look at Wuerffel and Ramsey, Spurrier paused and replied, "We're at the point where we think both Danny and Patrick deserve an opportunity to see what they can do in there."

The coach added that he is "not sure at all" whether both passers will play at Tennessee, but recent comments by Spurrier, Ramsey and other offensive players indicate a growing confidence in the draft's 32nd pick overall.

Several players on offense, for example, have praised Ramsey's progress over the past two weeks. Although Ramsey remains prone to little mistakes, some players said, he is rapidly approaching the point where he will be a compelling option.

And Ramsey thinks Spurrier is treating him differently. Whereas Ramsey nearly was traded in early August during his 16-day holdout and then relegated to scout team work, he began getting first-team snaps two weeks ago and since has taken a more prominent role in meetings and practice.

"I can't really speak for [Spurriers] confidence level, but he's calling on me a lot more and asking me more what I think," Ramsey said. "He's paying attention to what I think."

One teammate said he could sense a real change in Ramsey about 1½ weeks ago, shortly after the rookie began working with starters. Ramsey has been participating in post-practice workouts including one Monday and yesterday he and Wuerffel met with Spurrier to plan for the Titans.

"The last couple of weeks have been big for me both physically as far as throwing and [in] recognition as far as what's going on on the field," Ramsey said. "Just getting the reps has been pivotal for me."

Said Spurrier: "We think [Ramsey has improved] a lot. We think a whole lot. But, again, he hasn't played. Practice is all we can go by now."

On Sunday, Ramsey watched Detroit's Joey Harrington, the third pick overall, lead the Lions to victory in his second start. The draft's other first-round quarterback, David Carr, has started each game for Houston. But the Redskins passer won't say whether he thinks he is ready to make his own regular-season debut.

"I think I can't answer that question honestly until I get into a game and I face the game [pressures]," Ramsey said. "I haven't faced a starter in the NFL yet, as far as in the preseason or anything of that nature. So I don't think it would be fair for me to answer that question until I get in there."

Matthews left Redskin Park about 15 minutes before Wuerffel and Ramsey departed together. Many veteran players believe Matthews has played well and some privately wonder why he is being replaced, sentiments Matthews echoed publicly in recent days. Yesterday the veteran reiterated that he will be healthy enough to play this weekend if needed.

Note The Redskins worked out three safeties: Todd Franz (Tulsa), Raymond Perryman (Northern Arizona) and Antione Nesmith (South Carolina). The Redskins do not intend to sign one of the three immediately but may look for someone else to join the practice squad to replace Reggie Coleman, the Redskins' sixth-round pick who was picked up yesterday by Cincinnati.

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