- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 1, 2004

Patrick Ramsey is in his third season with the Washington Redskins, but he felt like he might as well have been one of the 14 rookies making their professional debuts yesterday.

“Oh, man, I was almost as wide-eyed as them,” Ramsey said following his first full-speed practice in nearly five months. “I mean, I was pretty comfortable with what we were doing. But at full speed, that was my first time since we played Miami [on Nov.[ThSp]23].”

Ramsey, who underwent surgery on his right foot in December, was understandably rusty on the first day of minicamp. His throws weren’t always on target, his defensive reads weren’t always accurate and his timing with receivers wasn’t always in sync. But Ramsey emerged from the two-hour session in good health, which is all he can ask at this stage.

“I felt pretty good,” he said. “Physically, I felt like I was moving my feet OK. I think I can get a little stronger pushing off of it and transitioning to my hips and throwing the ball. But there was no pain, and that was obviously a relief and a positive.”

Anyone hoping to draw conclusions on the quarterback competition between Ramsey and veteran acquisition Mark Brunell probably was disappointed. Ramsey got the first opportunity to take snaps with the first-team offense (his first pass was intercepted by safety Ifeanyi Ohalete). But by the end of the session, all three of the Redskins’ quarterbacks (Ramsey, Brunell and Tim Hasselbeck) had received equal playing time.



Brunell, acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a third-round draft pick, didn’t look much sharper than his teammates.

“The first day’s usually relatively sloppy, and it was today,” he said. “Some good throws, some not-so-good throws for the first day. It can only get better.”

Coach Joe Gibbs had no visions of a crisp-running offense, especially when both sides were practicing with only nine players on the field at a time.

“It’s awful hard for the quarterbacks to do real well because we’re not blocking everybody, so guys keep coming and there’s pressure,” Gibbs said. “I also think you’re putting them in the worst situation, so that’s normally good. They’re getting good, hard work. Guys are flashing by them. They have to read everything. So it’s a tough situation for the quarterbacks.”

Fortunately, from Ramsey’s perspective, there’s plenty of time to work out the kinks over the next four months.

“It’s going to take a while,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of training camp. But it’s certainly going to take a little more time just so we can all be on the same page.”

Almost full strength

Ramsey wasn’t the only one to return to the practice field yesterday. Several players coming back from injuries suited up for the first time in a while, including two key newcomers, cornerback Shawn Springs and linebacker Marcus Washington, as well as wide receiver Laveranues Coles.

Tackle Chris Samuels, guards Randy Thomas and Derrick Dockery, nose tackle Brandon Noble and wide receiver Darnerien McCants all participated in some capacity. Noble, in particular, did considerably more than in last month’s minicamp. The veteran defensive lineman, who missed last season with a shattered knee, participated in group drills and lined up with the first-teamers.

Star-struck

Chris Cooley didn’t draw as much attention yesterday as his fellow draft pick, safety Sean Taylor. Maybe that was best for the rookie H-back, for whom the Redskins traded up to select in the third round.

Cooley admitted being a little overwhelmed in his first NFL practice, especially when he suddenly found himself lining up opposite Pro Bowl linebacker LaVar Arrington. For a brief moment, the 21-year-old rookie from Utah State turned into a star-struck football fan.

“I think maybe when LaVar made a sack and was talking trash, I’m like, ‘Wow, LaVar Arrington is right here playing with me,’ ” Cooley said.

The numbers game

The Redskins managed to find a uniform number for each of the 85 players who suited up yesterday, but some are clearly temporary solutions while the club tries to sort out some problems.

Running back Clinton Portis, who still wants to wrest No. 26 away from Ohalete, is settling for No. 6 this weekend after wearing No. 3 at last month’s minicamp. Wide receiver James Thrash, unable to find an available jersey in the 80s, is going with Portis’ old No. 3 for now.

Gibbs suggested Thursday he may call some legendary Redskins whose numbers have been unofficially retired over the years and seek permission to hand them back out.

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