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FSS: Brunell erases all doubt


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Brunell erases all doubt


Mark Brunell (8) has shown the Broncos' Trevor Pryce (93) and the rest of the league that there's still plenty of life left in his 35-year-old legs.

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ASHBURN--This can't be the same guy.

This can't be the quarterback who last year looked as if he was throwing a medicine ball instead of a football. The quarterback who was benched at midseason.

All right, stop rubbing your eyes. It's Mark Brunell. Yes, he's 35, and yes, he's back.

"You never know what's going to happen," Brunell said yesterday. "I've always had confidence in my ability to play. It's a real fortunate situation for me to get the opportunity to do this."

Each week, the southpaw is proving his renaissance is no anomaly.

Through six games, he's completed 116-of-192 passes for 1,492 yards with 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His quarterback rating of 98.3 is tops in the NFC and is tied for third in the NFL. The Redskins, meanwhile, have the league's second-ranked offense.

Brunell will be the first to tell you he hates statistics. He thinks they're about as useful as a losing lottery ticket.

But he cares about his team's record, and he's a big reason the Redskins are 4-2, tied atop the NFC East heading into Sunday's clash with the New York Giants.

"I'd rather have a much lower rating and maybe five or six wins," Brunell said. "But it is what it is, and fortunately we're doing some things on offense."

It would seem Brunell's renaissance began soon after Patrick Ramsey was clotheslined to the turf in the second quarter of the Redskins' season opener against the Chicago Bears.

Brunell spelled Ramsey, and was solid if unmoving, as he led Washington to a 9-7 victory. It seemed he'd earned the right to start the following week mainly because--unlike Ramsey--he didn't make mistakes.

But Brunell was building to that moment during the summer. Throughout training camp and the preseason, his throws were crisp and his reads were dead-on.

It was a complete departure from the previous season, Brunell's first in Washington. The former Pro Bowler had been acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a future third-round draft pick.

He had to learn a scheme that was new to him but outdated in the league, and he struggled.

"Last year it was a tough transition for him," Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington said. "Everybody was trying to figure each other out."

Midway through the season, Brunell was benched in favor of Ramsey, and Ramsey entered training camp this year as the starter.

Both quarterbacks benefited from tweaks to the offense, in both scheme and personnel.

The Redskins added some shotgun sets and more downfield passing plays. Speedy wideouts Santana Moss and David Patten were brought in.

"I never looked at Mark as everyone else did from last season," Moss said. "I knew him as the guy who did all those good things in Jacksonville. It's great for him to be able to redeem himself."

Moss has played as big a role in Brunell's resurgence as anyone. He was acquired from the New York Jets in exchange for Laveranues Coles last offseason, and so far this year has 38 catches for a league-leading 743 yards.

With Brunell's success has come a sense of ease. He loves to tell jokes in the huddle and even at the line of scrimmage, and his teammates love it.

Sometimes, when opposing defenders yell out the play before the Redskins snap the ball, Brunell nods his head and says, "Yep, that's what we're running!"

Brunell says that last year, he wasn't making those jokes. There wasn't much to smile about, but now there is.

"We have a good time," he said. "We try and keep it light. This is a game, and we just want to have fun."

Injury report

Defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin missed yesterday's practice with a hip injury and safety Sean Taylor sat with an injured ankle, but both are listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Giants.

Defensive linemen Aki Jones (hamstring) and Cedric Killings (ankle) missed practice as well.

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Thats funny. I knew that the cowgirls game was special, but I had no idea it would lead to this. Mark Brunell is on fire. I knew that he had his confidence back, but talken smack n-da huddle, to the other team, WOW. The Giants are going to have their hands full when their bottom ranked defense trys to stop Brunell and co.. By the 3rd quater of the Giant game, Brunell might start calling plays from the line of scrimmage within earshot of the Giant's defense, just to make it sporting. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :gaintsuck :eaglesuck

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