- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Patrick Ramsey appears at least a few more weeks from playing. Coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday that Shane Matthews' shoulder is only bruised and that the first-round draft pick, in any case, isn't quite ready to start.
Spurrier's comments came one day after the Redskins were blown out 37-7 by the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington's only scoring came on a punt return by Jacquez Green. Following the game, Spurrier said he "may practice Patrick up a little bit, see how close he is to playing."
Yesterday the coach backed off that statement a bit, reaffirming Matthews as the starter if healthy and Danny Wuerffel as the backup.
"I don't think [Ramsey is] ready to start, but we'll try to coach him up a little more if Shane's hurt and so forth," Spurrier said. "I don't think he's quite ready knowledge-wise."
Matthews injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder late in the first half, apparently when safety Brian Dawkins hit him hard on a blitz. Matthews underwent an MRI yesterday, and Spurrier said it revealed a bruise that could affect his practice time but shouldn't keep him out Sunday at San Francisco.
"Shane Matthews kind of got a bruised shoulder," Spurrier said. "I don't think it's too bad. He may be a little limited in practice. We'll see how that goes this week."
Despite Matthews' confirmed status as the starter, there seems to have been a slight shift in mindset by Spurrier, who looked into trading Ramsey before an early August deadline and has relegated him basically to scout team work since he ended a 16-day holdout. When midseason approaches, it seems, Ramsey might get a real shot at the job.
Spurrier spread the blame for Monday night's offensive woes, but Matthews clearly wasn't in sync. He made at least a half-dozen bad passes or decisions in the Redskins' first three drives, which set the tone for the embarrassing defeat. Matthews finished 10-for-22 for 62 yards and an interception.
Wuerffel was no better, passing for 57 yards and a pick in a half of relief. Wuerffel's struggles continued a trend from the preseason, when he was brilliant against second-string defenses but poor against starters.
"Danny, his confidence level is missing right now," Spurrier said. "He's done some things the last couple times out that I've never seen him do. [Early] preseason he was fine training camp, minicamps. He was playing without hesitation and knew exactly what he was doing."
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Daryl Gardener is expected to test his back when the team resumes practice this afternoon. Gardener received a pain-killing shot last week after his back spasms flared up and was not able to play against the Eagles.
"He should be healthy," Spurrier said. "Late in the week, it seemed like his back was feeling much better. We'll see how he does tomorrow."
Gardener's absence on the interior line seemingly has made a difference in Washington's pass rush. With Carl Powell starting Monday night, the Redskins failed to contain Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 36 yards and another score.
It remains unclear how effective Gardener will be when he returns and whether he will be able to stay healthy. His bad back is expected to be an ongoing problem. So far he has played just one preseason and one regular-season game and has needed a series of injections, and such spasms led to a pair of back surgeries in 2000 and 2001.
With that in mind, any practice today should be more exploratory than preparatory.
"I think he's going to practice tomorrow. To what extent, I don't know," agent Neil Schwartz said. "The goal here isn't to play this week and not to recover for the next week. The goal is to play as much as possible this season. So they've got to figure out a [practice] schedule to accomplish that goal."
Regardless, Washington is not counting on Gardener, shifting its focus to Powell and Del Cowsette. Any contribution from Gardener will be seen as a plus.
"Daryl's not been a factor with what we're doing," defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said. "If we have Daryl, great, but we have planned to play without Daryl."
Washington apparently did not suffer any serious injuries, besides Matthews' shoulder, against the Eagles. Among previously injured players, this week linebacker Antonio Pierce is expected to return from a sprained ankle, but tight end Walter Rasby remains out with a sprained knee.
No personnel changes appear imminent. Ross Tucker took second-half snaps at left guard for David Loverne, whose performance after a solid opener dropped off. However, the two had been expected to share time at the position before Loverne stepped up in Week 1.

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