- The Washington Times - Friday, September 24, 2004

Mark Brunell was primarily a spectator as the Washington Redskins resumed practice yesterday, but the veteran quarterback continues to hold out hope that his ailing hamstring will heal in time for Monday night’s game against the Dallas Cowboys.

“It’s kind of too early to tell,” said Brunell, who participated in only a handful of drills. “And ultimately, as I said before, it’s Coach [Joe] Gibbs’ decision. But I’m shooting for [Monday night]. I really want to be a part of that game.”

With Brunell in full pads but watching mostly from the sideline, Patrick Ramsey took the bulk of snaps in practice. Though he has yet to be told of his role against the Cowboys, the 25-year-old backup is approaching things as though he’ll be the starter.

“I’m going to practice and prepare as if I’m going to play,” Ramsey said. “And if Mark’s going to play, so be it and I’m going to back up. But at the same time, if he’s not able to go, then I’m going to be ready.”

Despite the ominous tone the Redskins and Gibbs have taken with regard to Brunell all week, the quarterback seems to have progressed significantly each day. He walked around Redskin Park yesterday without any kind of wrap around his strained hamstring, and he has shown no visible limp.

Asked outright if his own decision would be to play against Dallas, Brunell said, “Absolutely. But it’s not my decision.”

The man who does make the decision wasn’t ready to reveal anything yesterday.

“I think right now we’re just working through it one day at a time,” Gibbs said.

Brown or Jones?

Following a solid performance last week against the New York Giants, Ray Brown appears to be in line to start again at right tackle.

Brown, who at 41 is by far the oldest player on the Redskins’ roster, had not played right tackle in 10 years but held up well in place of previous starter Kenyatta Jones. Jones continues to deal with bone spurs in his ankle and is splitting reps in practice this week with Brown.

Though Jones’ injury might be serious enough to keep him out of the starting lineup, the Redskins are not listing him on their daily injury report. Either way, the coaching staff appears to be high on Brown, especially after his performance Sunday against Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Michael Strahan.

“We figured if we’ve got a healthy guy who weighs 340 pounds going against Strahan, we’d rather have him in there than a guy who maybe has something wrong with his ankle,” assistant head coach for offense Joe Bugel said. “Kenyatta’s going to have to play with pain all year; he understands that and we do, too. Ray’s playing at a high level right now. So the healthy guys, the guys who can practice real good and can practice every snap, basically that’s how we make our decisions.”

Brown, who rejoined the Redskins during training camp after spending the last eight seasons in San Francisco and Detroit, never expected to be moved from guard to tackle at this stage of his career. Though he was generally pleased with his play last week, he would like more practice time at tackle before his next game.

“I’ll admit: It’s harder for me to go from guard to tackle than it is from tackle to guard,” Brown said. “But if I can get the work and the reps at that position, then that will give me some level of confidence that I can go out and play.”

Extra points

Linebacker LaVar Arrington, in addition to undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee yesterday, also apparently found out he has been fined $5,000 by the NFL. Arrington illegally grabbed Giants running back Tiki Barber’s face mask during Sunday’s game, though no penalty was called. …

Andre Lott continues to work ahead of rookie Sean Taylor at free safety, but the first-round pick is expected to see increased playing time this week. “I think I’m taking steps in the right path,” Taylor said. “And I’m feeling it a little more each weekend. Plays are starting to become easier for me to make. I’ve been learning.” …

Cornerback Fred Smoot, upon learning that teammate Shawn Springs grew up a Cowboys fan and once owned a pair of team-inspired underwear: “He’s got Cowboys underwear? I should have slipped him some Ex-Lax.”

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