- The Washington Times - Friday, September 27, 2002

Washington coach Steve Spurrier yesterday gave the strongest signal yet that he will make a change at quarterback when the Redskins return to action next Sunday at Tennessee.
Indications are that if Spurrier sits starter Shane Matthews, he will go with journeyman Danny Wuerffel ahead of rookie Patrick Ramsey.
Spurrier said yesterday that the 32-year-old Matthews, whom he replaced with Wuerffel in the second half of losses to Philadelphia and San Francisco, needs a break from the pass rush abuse that has given the nine-year veteran a badly bruised shoulder, a bruised chest and now an ailing lower back.
"When you look at Shane, he's not a big, strong guy," Spurrier said. "He may be a little bit better off coming in off the bench instead of getting hit so often. He's banged-up. He probably needs a little break."
At 6-foot-3 and 196 pounds, Matthews is two inches taller but 14 pounds lighter than the stockier Wuerffel. Ramsey is 6-2, 217. Still, Matthews has been sacked just three times in 93 dropbacks compared to Wuerffel's five out of 16.
Despite losing top pass rusher Jevon Kearse to a broken foot before the opener, the Titans have 10 sacks, the sixth most in the league. Only 10 teams have allowed more sacks than Washington's eight.
Spurrier didn't mention Wuerffel by name yesterday, but the coach has made a point of saying this week that the 28-year-old Floridian needs "a full opportunity," as opposed to coming off the bench, to show what he can do. Wuerffel hasn't started since a four-game stint for New Orleans in 1998. He led the Saints to victories over Carolina and Indianapolis before enjoying a career day in a 30-27 loss at New England, completing 25 of 47 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns.
Wuerffel, who won the Heisman Trophy while giving Spurrier his only national title at Florida in 1996, threw 38 passes for the Saints in 1999 but none as the third-stringer in Green Bay in 2000 and none last year in Chicago, where Matthews was the backup.
"It's hard to say what's going to happen," Wuerffel said. "I'm not going to get too excited too quickly. I don't know if the last few days changed much. We had some good practices, kind of got back to our preseason tempo, which was helpful."
Wuerffel said he was hopeful that Spurrier would announce his decision before Wednesday's first serious Titans-focused practice.
"There are limited reps, and it's helpful to get as many reps as you can if you're going to play," Wuerffel said.
Ramsey, who held out for 16 days and missed the first three preseason games, split time with Wuerffel during this week's three practices, but whether he has made enough progress to jump from third-stringer to starter remains doubtful.
"Patrick got a lot of snaps, a lot of throws in," Spurrier said. "He's coming around. We'll see next week who we need to send out there to beat Tennessee."
Extra points Matthews, who left Redskin Park right after practice, was one of four starters who didn't work out in the rain. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels rested the groin he strained against Philadelphia and the thigh he bruised in San Francisco. Dan Wilkinson was excused because of his sprained right wrist, and fellow defensive tackle Daryl Gardener had the flu.
Tight end Walter Rasby ran some routes on the sideline for the first time since he sprained his left knee in the Aug. 24 preseason game at Tampa Bay. Rasby plans to practice next week and play at Tennessee. Zeron Flemister has been starting in his place.
Reserve linebacker Antonio Pierce is back practicing after suffering a high sprain of his left ankle in the Aug. 29 preseason finale against New England and hopes to be active against the Titans.
Linebacker Jessie Armstead's 18 tackles against the 49ers were a career high and the most by a Redskin since linebacker Derek Smith, now a 49er, had 18 in a 34-17 loss to Buffalo on Nov. 7, 1999.
Former Florida State guard Milford Brown, the subject of today's supplemental college draft, visited Redskin Park. The 6-4, 316-pound Brown started all 12 games for the Seminoles last year after transferring from East Mississippi Junior College and figured to start again this season. However, the NCAA ruled that Brown had exhausted all of his eligibility by enrolling briefly at Alabama State in 1997, so he opted to turn pro now rather than wait until the normal April draft. Brown is considered a solid prospect, and if a team takes him today it would forfeit its selection in a corresponding round of the 2003 draft.



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