- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 28, 2004

ST. LOUIS — Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey made a few nice throws but no statement last night in what was viewed as his final shot at the starting job.

As the Redskins suffered a 28-3 loss to the St. Louis Rams, Ramsey made his second start and managed to complete 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 in the Sept.12 opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Ramsey exited after playing the first half, giving way to Brunell, who was 5-for-8 for 28 yards against Rams reserves.

Afterward, Gibbs claimed that the plan all along had been to start Brunell in Friday’s preseason finale against the Atlanta Falcons. The coach said he would stick with that plan.

“I’ll look at the film,” Gibbs said. “We were hit-and-miss all the way around. I think Patrick made some good plays. But in general, when you play this bad, it’s all of us together. I think every week, every practice, there’s been something that we’ve studied and taken note of. There will come a point here where we need to make a decision.”

Ramsey hit wide receiver Rod Gardner for 9 and 15 yards on the game’s opening drive, which went for a field goal but later reverted to the inaccuracy that has defined his preseason. Even his best throw, the 44-yarder to Taylor Jacobs, immediately was fumbled away.

“I felt pretty comfortable,” Ramsey said. “There were some things that weren’t there at times. There was a throw or two I could have made better. But I was pretty comfortable.”

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 throws 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.

Ramsey, asked whether he did all he could this preseason, replied, “Absolutely. I could have played better, but as far as effort and preparation were concerned, I certainly did.”

Samuels sprains ankle

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.

Samuels didn’t return, but X-rays showed no signs of a fracture. Afterward, he was confident he would be ready for the regular-season opener, though not necessarily the Falcons exhibition.

“I was driving my guy off the ball and before I knew it, somebody piled up on the back of my legs,” Samuels said. “I’m feeling pretty good. I don’t think it’s that bad. I’ll be back ready to play soon. … I know for a fact I’ll be ready for Tampa.”

Replacing Samuels was Marcus Spriggs, whom Washington signed in the wake of Jansen’s injury Aug. 9.

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, who gained 10 yards on his first rush but a total of just 5 on his other three, previously had not played in the preseason because of a hamstring strain. The 2002 second-rounder believed he didn’t suffer any setbacks and plans to play against the Falcons.

“My leg felt pretty good,” Betts said. “It’s not quite where I need it to be, but it was good enough to get out there and get a start going. It felt good to get back out there in action.”

Competing against Betts in a closely scrutinized battle at backup running back are Rock Cartwright (five carries for -1 yards; left game with a stinger), Sultan McCullough (six for 18) and John Simon (did not play, shoulder). Two of the four are expected to make the 53-man roster.

Extra points

Assistant head coach for defense Gregg Williams rearranged three spots on the starting defense in an attempt to gauge the caliber of several reserves. Joe Salave’a was in for nose tackle Brandon Noble; Ron Warner subbed for right defensive end Regan Upshaw (already an expected replacement for injured Phillip Daniels); and Andre Lott started in place of strong safety Matt Bowen.

“There ain’t no starters this time of year,” Williams said. “We’ve got to look at everybody. … We’ve got a job as coaches to get matchups to see if guys deserve to be in this league or not. You can’t wait to see our ‘threes’ play against their ‘threes.’ You’ve got to move guys up and let them play.” …

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. Recently signed Ray Brown started in Thomas’ place. …

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

“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.”

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