- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 20, 2003

The Washington Redskins finally found a trade they liked in the defensive tackle market yesterday, swapping a conditional seventh-round selection to the New Orleans Saints for Martin Chase.

A day after declining to pick up Ted Washington or Lional Dalton, the Redskins acquired Chase, a 310-pound run-stopper with four career starts.

Chase will join Washington’s competition at the “three-technique” defensive tackle, meaning the spot on the outside edge of the guard. Bernard Holsey is the current starter there, and recently signed James Cannida is expected to push for the job. Chase could beat out both if he plays well.

“He upgrades the group,” vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato said. “Whether he starts depends on how he plays.”

Washington could add another defensive tackle who similarly improves the rotation, even if it’s an upgrade over one of the reserves.

“Are we done looking?” Cerrato said. “We’ll keep continuing to look. What we’re trying to do is improve our group. If there’s somebody out there that continues to improve our group, we’ll keep looking.”

The swapped pick is in this spring’s seventh round, and it will become a sixth-rounder if Chase plays in 40 percent of Washington’s snaps this season.

It was a cheaper price than what was discussed for Washington or Dalton. Washington was traded Tuesday night from Chicago to New England for a fourth-round pick, and Denver told the Redskins that it was on the verge of accepting an unspecified low-round pick for Dalton. However, Dalton hadn’t been dealt as of yesterday afternoon.

In Washington’s case, the Redskins no longer had a fourth-round pick because it had been traded to the New York Jets as compensation for kick returner Chad Morton. They believed a third-round pick was far too costly for a short-term line fix.

Cerrato made clear that the Redskins are determined not to get swindled into a bad trade. The recent cut of Dan Wilkinson and injury to Brandon Noble led some to believe the club would panic.

“A lot of times, people think you’re desperate, which we’re not, and they want to gouge you with picks and stuff,” Cerrato said. “We’re not going to be stupid. We’re going to be smart. We feel like we can play with the people we have. And if there’s somebody out there that can upgrade us, we’re going to make a move.”

New Orleans’ confidence in its other four defensive tackles made Chase expendable. Another factor was his contract, which expires after this season. The Saints could part with Chase without worrying about cap implications or a long-term investment.

Ramsey progressing

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey did some light throwing for the first time this week, and it appears he’ll be ready to play Saturday night against the Baltimore Ravens at FedEx Field.

Ramsey, who bruised his right hand during last week’s game, did not take any snaps or participate in any full-squad drills. But he experienced no pain while playing catch with fellow quarterback Gibran Hamdan or while throwing to receivers on route-running drills.

“It’s definitely a step forward,” Ramsey said. “As [trainer] Dean [Kleinschmidt] told me, it’s truly day to day. Every day we’re going to evaluate it and try not to take any steps backwards.”

In some ways, Ramsey’s injury might be teaching him a valuable lesson. The second-year quarterback threw many tight spirals during his limited practice time yesterday, and coach Steve Spurrier thinks he knows why.

“He wasn’t trying to throw real hard,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes Patrick cuts it loose and it can be a little hard to catch. He was taking a little off of it today and throwing very catchable balls.”

Even if he plays against Baltimore, Ramsey won’t see action beyond the second quarter. Spurrier said he plans to leave his first team in for the first half only, much like last week against New England.

Extra points

Randy Thomas missed his third straight practice with a sprained right ankle, and Spurrier said the starting right guard is “very doubtful” for Saturday. Third-round draft pick Derrick Dockery has been filling in for Thomas. … Receiver Rod Gardner sat out with a strained groin, but he said he plans to play against Baltimore. … Darnerien McCants, who missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, had his best practice to date yesterday. The coaching staff wants to get a good look at McCants, who is battling for the fifth or sixth receiver spot, against the Ravens. … Veteran guard Tre Johnson, who has yet to practice because of a sore Achilles’ tendon, said he is aiming to be back on the field for next Thursday’s preseason finale at Jacksonville.

Local subscribers of Comcast cable with a high-definition TV will be able to see the Redskins-Ravens game in HDTV. Comcast SportsNet, which is showing three Ravens preseason games in HDTV, is believed to be the only regional sports network airing preseason NFL games in the enhanced format.

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