- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2003

Washington Redskins coach Steve Spurrier seems to be leaning toward giving quarterback Tim Hasselbeck his first career start tomorrow night at Miami with Patrick Ramsey still hampered by a lingering foot injury.

Ramsey practiced yesterday for the first time all week, but his participation was significantly limited by a bone bruise in his right foot that was aggravated last Sunday against Carolina and has shown little sign of improvement since.

Ramsey will continue to undergo treatment through the weekend and still hopes to be ready to play tomorrow night, but Spurrier yesterday spoke as if he expects Hasselbeck to start with Ramsey backing up.

“I think [Ramsey] will be capable of playing or of being the second guy anyway,” Spurrier said. “Tim’s had the most practice all week, and if necessary he’s ready to go. It’s still sort of a wait-and-see on Patrick, but his foot’s really bothering him.”

Though he was limited to only certain drills and once again limped out of Redskin Park in a protective boot, Ramsey was encouraged by his only practice appearance of the week.

“It felt pretty good,” the second-year quarterback said. “And I’m still hopeful that I’ll be able to play.”

With Ramsey likely available to at least back up Hasselbeck, Washington doesn’t plan to sign rookie quarterback Gibran Hamdan off the practice squad before today’s 4 p.m. deadline. Doing so would require releasing another player, and the Redskins don’t appear to want to have to do that.

“I would think Patrick, even at worst, could be the emergency backup quarterback,” Spurrier said. “There’s too many other guys; we’d have to cut somebody.”

With all the attention focused on Ramsey and his attempt to play through pain, Hasselbeck has stayed under the radar this week. It will be impossible not to notice him, though, if he is called upon to make his first career start in a nationally televised game against the league’s top-ranked scoring defense.

Hasselbeck, 25, was signed by the Redskins three weeks ago after veteran backup Rob Johnson was released and made a brief appearance in Washington’s Nov. 2 loss at Dallas. He filled in for a few plays when Ramsey injured his shoulder and completed two of three passes for 20 yards.

Other than that, Hasselbeck’s NFL experience consists of four preseason games with Philadelphia last year.

“I’ve played in the preseason before, and I’ve had limited snaps in a regular-season game. I’m just going to approach this like I approached both of those situations,” Hasselbeck said. “I’m not going to look at it like it’s ‘Sunday Night Football,’ it’s against a really good defense, and we have our backs up against the wall and need to get a win. I’m not going to be concerned with those things. I’m just going to be concerned with running each play the way I’ve been coached to run it and trying to move us down the field.”

Hasselbeck, the son of a longtime NFL tight end, younger brother of the starting quarterback in Seattle and husband of a former “Survivor” contestant and current TV host, is easily overlooked. The former Boston College star has, however, made a strong impression on the Redskins since coming to town, perhaps even enough to win over one of the most critical quarterback coaches around.

“Tim is knowledgeable, and he throws a very catchable ball,” Spurrier said. “He throws a few good ones and bad ones, just like Patrick. We’re not real sharp out here all the time, and it sort of concerns all of us. But he’s capable. Tim’s capable of throwing all the passes.”

The Redskins plan to run the same offense tomorrow night whether Ramsey or Hasselbeck plays; Spurrier did acknowledge they will limit seven-step drops for Hasselbeck to try to keep him from getting hit.

During the game against the Cowboys, the newly signed Hasselbeck had a grasp of only a portion of Washington’s playbook. Three weeks later, he said he’s comfortable with every play in the book.

“We haven’t discussed a package for me versus a package for Patrick,” Hasselbeck said. “So whatever’s on that call sheet, I’m going to be responsible for, and I’m going to be prepared for Coach to call it. I’m a lot more comfortable than I was, say, during Dallas week. Because I’ve been here longer. I’m a lot more comfortable. Hopefully, that translates into performing better.”

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