- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Last week’s practice setback proved a critical blow for Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey, whose second season ended yesterday when he accelerated plans to surgically repair his right foot.

Ramsey will undergo surgery as soon as this weekend to repair an old fracture and tendon damage. Doctors have told him he will be able to jog about 10 weeks later, meaning he should be able to run in late February or early March and be healthy when the Redskins convene for minicamp in early May.

“We just felt like it wasn’t going to get better by the end of the season,” Ramsey said as he exited Redskin Park in a walking boot. “It’s frustrating, it really is. But there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m just trying to make the best of the situation.”

Tim Hasselbeck, who performed well in Sunday’s 20-7 road win over the New York Giants, will start Washington’s final three games. Coach Steve Spurrier left open the possibility that Hasselbeck could win the permanent job with a strong performance.

“There’s always a chance anything can happen,” Spurrier said. “There’s always a chance a lot of stuff can happen. But right now we don’t anticipate that. Right now we anticipate Patrick, when he comes back, being our starter.”

News of Ramsey’s season ending came as no surprise. All along he pointed to this week for a decision on the rest of his year. If he hadn’t made significant progress by now, he had said, he would strongly consider shutting down rehabilitation efforts and moving right to surgery, which was viewed as inevitable anyway.

Last Monday, Ramsey was upbeat about how his foot felt and looked forward to testing it in Wednesday’s practice. But he couldn’t complete that workout, failing to sustain a plant in a passing drill and crumpling to the ground. Although X-rays showed no new damage, it was clear he wasn’t ready to return.

“I understood [ending my season] might be a reality when I slipped last week and it hurt that bad, I aggravated it that much,” Ramsey said. “In a game-type situation, more than that’s going to happen. If I can’t continue to practice after that, obviously it’s going to be tough to continue to play.”

Surgery will be performed by Dr. Robert Anderson of Charlotte, N.C., as soon as it can be scheduled. Anderson, a foot specialist, has performed surgery on a number of other NFL players, including Minnesota running back Michael Bennett and Tennessee defensive end Jevon Kearse. Ramsey wasn’t exactly sure what the procedure would involve; he expected the fracture and tendon would be repaired. The Redskins did not respond to a request for a more detailed explanation.

Ramsey’s old fracture is in his fifth metatarsal. It was discovered in training camp but might date to his childhood. It flared up in the Nov.9 win over Seattle, clearly affected Ramsey in the Nov.16 loss at Carolina, and had him in obvious pain in his last appearance, Nov.23 at Miami, before he was sidelined with a concussion.

He finished his second season with 2,166 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, nine interceptions and 30 sacks. His rating was 75.8, marginally better than the 71.8 rating he posted as a rookie. The effort left him eager to improve but confident progress had been made.

“I know one thing: I saw things better out there,” Ramsey said. “I saw the field better. Mechanically, I was kind of inhibited in terms of being able to throw at times. But mentally, I saw things pretty well and felt pretty good.”

Ramsey was spectacular in the early going, when he had back-to-back 300-yard efforts against Atlanta and the Giants, but he slumped as the sacks and hits piled up. In the Oct.19 loss at Buffalo, he completed just eight passes, and in the game at Carolina he was erratic with his throws and seemed panicky in the pocket.

“Patrick played well a lot of games this year,” Spurrier said. “Obviously his foot was bothering him some when he set up. He was not being able to set and throw as well later in the year. But Patrick had a good second year.”

Hasselbeck does not have as strong or as accurate an arm as Ramsey, limiting the odds that he will win the starting job. But he has played with surprising poise in two starts and an extended relief appearance, and his ability to get rid of the ball has led to just three sacks.

However, Spurrier noted that his offense has evolved quite a bit, from an aggressive scheme filled with seven-step drops and deep throws to a more conservative set that leans on three- and five-step drops and running plays. On Sunday, Spurrier called for 48 runs, the most to date in his NFL career.


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