- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 15, 2004

Veteran Mark Brunell took a shaky lead in the Washington Redskins’ quarterback battle last night thanks to one beautifully thrown pass and a dismal outing by young Patrick Ramsey.

Brunell didn’t play great in a 23-20 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers but hit Darnerien McCants for a 61-yard touchdown in the third quarter. The pass was a well-timed bomb down the left sideline, just over the outstretched hand of cornerback Dante Wesley and right in stride with McCants.

Overall, the outing was anything but decisive in the team’s most scrutinized battle of the preseason. Brunell finished just 6-for-15 for 119 yards with an interception, and his performance came entirely against Carolina reserve defenders.

Still, one good throw was more than Ramsey managed. The young passer looked skittish in the pocket and threw with little precision or zip. He finished 4-for-11 for 62 yards, though even those figures were inflated by a final series against backups. In three series against starters, Ramsey completed two of seven passes for 39 yards with an interception, a sack and two mishandled snaps.

“Obviously, I feel like I could have done 100 percent better,” Ramsey said. “I’m not real pleased with my performance, but I’ll get better.”

Including Monday’s 20-17 win over the Denver Broncos, in which neither quarterback played well, Brunell is 10-for-23 for 137 yards, while Ramsey is 7-for-19 for 74 yards.

Last night reinforced the thinking that Brunell, who signed a seven-year, $43million contract during the offseason, will win the job, if only by default. Coach Joe Gibbs intends to continue rotating the passers until he decides on a starter. Brunell will start Saturday at Miami, and Ramsey is scheduled to go first Aug.27 at St. Louis.

Jones not bad

Kenyatta Jones appeared to hold up for the most part in his first start for right tackle Jon Jansen, who was lost for the season when he ruptured an Achilles’ tendon against Denver in the first preseason game.

Jones wasn’t beaten in any glaring instances, though the Redskins rarely left him “on an island,” or without help. Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers did record a sack, but it didn’t come against Jones specifically. Jones was whistled for holding late in the second quarter, negating a completion to H-back Chris Cooley.

Jones said the sack was “a miscommunication between me and the guard.”

“It was my first time back at tackle again,” said Jones, who started at right guard against Denver. “There’s a lot of room for improvement. But it didn’t go bad, though.”

The situation at right tackle remains fluid. Washington considered moving left guard Derrick Dockery there but decided to try Jones first, betting continuity would be best for the line as a whole. Jones has experience at right tackle, starting 12 games there for the New England Patriots in 2002.

Baxter injured

Tight end Fred Baxter appeared to suffer a serious knee injury in the third quarter when he twisted his leg while running downfield alone.

Club officials said Baxter had a sprained knee and would have an MRI this morning. He was carted from the sideline a few minutes after exiting and evaluated by team doctors.

Washington picked up Baxter on June2 to compete for a backup role at tight end. A 12-year NFL veteran, he played the past two seasons for the Patriots, not catching a pass either year. Walter Rasby is entrenched as the starting tight end.

At least two other Redskins suffered injuries last night. Rookie tackle Mark Wilson’s nose was broken, while rookie cornerback Rufus Brown bruised his right thigh.

Extra points

Nose tackle Brandon Noble returned to the starting lineup despite a fractured hand, which he had wrapped in a hard cast. It was Noble’s first game action since the 2003 preseason, when he tore two knee ligaments and dislocated a kneecap against the Patriots. …

Return man Chad Morton decided at the last minute not to play because of the ankle injury that bothered him during the week. Punter Tom Tupa, in a gametime decision, did not dress because of a strained back muscle. He injured himself at practice Thursday.

Joining Tupa in street clothes were cornerbacks Rashad Bauman (hamstring) and Walt Harris (knee), running back Ladell Betts (hamstring), linebacker Mike Barrow (knee), center Ben Nowland (knee), tackle Brandon Winey (ankle), wide receiver Cliff Russell (hamstring) and defensive end Phillip Daniels (abdomen). …

For a second straight game, the Redskins did not introduce starters. The players decided to do so as a sign of unity, much as the Patriots did in Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams.

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