- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 28, 2004

ST. LOUIS — Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey made a couple of nice passes but no statement last night in what was considered his final shot at the starting job.

In a game against the St. Louis Rams that ended too late for this edition, Ramsey completed two throws on an opening scoring drive and a 44-yarder in the second quarter. But he hit just five of 10 for 81 yards overall, seemingly far too little to prove he should supplant veteran Mark Brunell for the Sept.12 season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ramsey exited after playing the first half and was replaced by Brunell.

When interviewed last week, coach Joe Gibbs wouldn’t commit to naming a starter before Friday’s preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons. However, his early plan to rotate starters now has expired, and he must choose a starter for the Falcons game.

Ramsey entered the Rams game with a dreadful 35.3 rating, second worst among NFC quarterbacks ranked by the league. In the first three preseason games, the second of which he started, he completed just 10 of 27 for 115 yards and one interception.

Brunell wasn’t spectacular in those games but did play efficiently in the Aug.21 shutout win at Miami, where he completed seven of nine passes for 79 yards. The 11th-year veteran was perceived to hold a significant advantage in the battle from the start, given his experience and seven-year, $43million contract.

After 9- and 15-yard completions to Rod Gardner on Washington’s opening drive, Ramsey reverted to the inaccuracy that has defined his preseason. On the Redskins’ third series, he badly overthrew Darnerien McCants on second down and tossed well behind James Thrash on third down.

However, he did complete a pretty 44-yard pass to Taylor Jacobs late in the second quarter. Jacobs immediately fumbled, aborting any chance for Ramsey to gain some momentum. Regardless, it wasn’t enough for Ramsey to reverse a generally mediocre night.

Samuels sprains ankle

With images of right tackle Jon Jansen’s torn Achilles’ tendon still fresh in the Redskins’ minds, the team got a scare when left tackle Chris Samuels went down with a sprained ankle in the second quarter.

Although Samuels did not return to the game, the immediate indications weren’t ominous. X-rays were negative, and he remained on the sideline after being evaluated and even was seen smiling.

Jansen was lost for the season Aug.9 in the Hall of Fame Game when his Achilles’ tendon popped as he turned to run upfield. Kenyatta Jones since has moved into the starting lineup at right guard.

Betts No. 2

Running back Ladell Betts served as Clinton Portis’ primary backup, an indication of how highly the coaching staff considers him despite continued injury concerns.

Betts previously had not played in the preseason because of a hamstring strain. The 2002 second-round pick also missed significant time last season with a broken forearm.

Competing against Betts in a closely scrutinized battle at backup running back are Rock Cartwright, Sultan McCullough and John Simon. Two of the four are expected to make the 53-man roster.

Simon’s candidacy seemed to take a hit when he sat out with a shoulder injury. He made the trip but was not healthy enough to play.

Extra points

Assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams rearranged three spots on the starting unit. Replacing nose tackle Brandon Noble was Joe Salave’a. In for right defensive end Regan Upshaw (already an expected sub for injured Phillip Daniels) was Ron Warner. And safety Andre Lott started in place of Matt Bowen.

It wasn’t immediately clear why Williams shook up the starting defense, which in the second quarter surrendered a touchdown for the first time this preseason. However, the coach has been careful to caution observers not to read too much into personnel groupings. …

Right guard Randy Thomas sat out, an indication that he was more than “resting” his knees, as he had said Wednesday when he skipped practice. Still, club officials didn’t seem concerned by his absence. …

Safety Sean Taylor made his third interception of the preseason in the second quarter. The rookie also has forced two fumbles in exhibition play. …

Former NFL coach Don Coryell, whose influential offense provides the foundation for the schemes now run by Redskins coach Joe Gibbs and Rams coach Mike Martz, served as St. Louis’ honorary captain last night.

“He was very, very progressive,” said Gibbs, who played for Coryell and served on several of his staffs. “He was great to work for, and he gave great leeway to his staff. His system was the place where he was gifted. It’s still used by a lot of people today.” …

Not making the trip to St. Louis were nickel corner Walt Harris (calf), tight end Fred Baxter (knee), linebacker Mike Barrow (knee), linebacker LaVar Arrington (knee), linebacker Chris Clemons (hamstring), offensive lineman Dwayne Morgan (knee) and defensive end Phillip Daniels (abdomen).

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