- The Washington Times - Friday, September 20, 2002

Shane Matthews had most of the work with the first team in practice yesterday and is expected to start at quarterback when the Washington Redskins visit the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Matthews missed the second half of Monday's 37-7 loss to Philadelphia after suffering a badly bruised left shoulder on a sack by Brian Dawkins. Coach Steve Spurrier said the after-effects of the hit, which were very noticeable on Wednesday, had dissipated yesterday although he cautioned that Matthews could be out awhile if he took another big hit on the shoulder.

"Shane threw pretty well today; he's all set to go," Spurrier said.

"It felt a lot better," Matthews agreed. "I'll be ready to go."

Spurrier said that Matthews actually could have remained in Monday's game, but with the Redskins losing 23-7 and the quarterback having completed just 10-of-22 passes for 62 yards, he decided to replace him with backup Danny Wuerffel, who was no better.

"I thought a change might spark our team, but it didn't," Spurrier said. "It's not always all the quarterback's fault. To me, a quarterback plays poorly if he's got protection and a guy open and he can't hit him. That's when you get the next quarterback. Shane has played pretty well [Matthews was the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in the 31-23 opening victory over Arizona], but he's got to play better this week."

A repeat performance by Matthews against the 49ers could prompt another change, especially with Washington having two weeks to prepare for its following game at Tennessee.

Spurrier made a point yesterday of praising rookie third-stringer Patrick Ramsey, the team's first-round draft pick who had disappointed the coach with his 16-day holdout this summer.

"Obviously, Patrick can throw the ball sharper than anybody we got," Spurrier said. "That doesn't mean he's our best quarterback until he knows when and where to throw it. Patrick's getting closer. He's picking [the offense] up pretty nicely."

Spurrier is also looking for improvement from young starting receivers Rod Gardner and Derrius Thompson, who combined for 11 catches, 176 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona but just five catches for 72 yards against Philadelphia. Spurrier plans to give veteran Jacquez Green who scored the Redskins' only touchdown against the Eagles on a 90-yard punt return more playing time at receiver.

"Jacquez needs to play more," Spurrier said of Green, a three-year Tampa Bay starter. "He needs to give Derrius a break every now and then. Maybe someone needs to give Rod a break every now and then. I told our receivers today, 'You guys were flying around and hustling in preseason when you were trying to make the team.' We've got to go back to our preseason attitude."

Meanwhile, the swelling in Dan Wilkinson's sprained right wrist was reduced, but the defensive tackle still sat out a second practice. Wilkinson and defensive line coach Ricky Hunley both said they expected him to start even if he doesn't practice today. However, Spurrier seemed less sure about the durable Wilkinson, who has missed three games during his nine seasons, none in his five years with the Redskins.

"I imagine he'll play, how much I don't know," Spurrier said.

Wilkinson's running mate, Daryl Gardener, practiced for the second straight day after missing Monday's game with a flareup of his chronically ailing back. Gardener said he felt fine. Carl Powell, who made his first NFL start against the Eagles, and Del Cowsette, who has yet to start, would get the nods if Wilkinson and/or Gardener couldn't play on Sunday.

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