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Spurrier: Ramsey 'Better Prepared' in 2003


Steve Spurrier's Opening Press Conference Sunday

By Gary Fitzgerald

Redskins.com Contributing Writer

One is the teacher, the other is the student. And with training camp beginning in earnest Monday morning, the teacher--head coach Steve Spurrier--is set to guide his pupil--second-year quarterback Patrick Ramsey--through a challenging preseason.

Spurrier said he will “play it by feel” regarding how much work Ramsey will get in the Redskins’ four preseason contests.

“Patrick needs to play some, make the audibles and check off. He needs to make some mistakes and learn from those mistakes,” Spurrier said at Sunday's press conference from Redskins Park. “We’ll try to balance it so that he gets the right amount of playing time before the regular season.”

Spurrier, of course, came to Washington last year as a coach with a history of developing young quarterbacks at the collegiate level. He has worked with Ramsey for an entire offseason now and believes the former Tulane star is prepared for the workload that comes with being a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Ramsey has proven to be a quick study. Last year, he completed 117-of-227 passes for 1,539 yards and nine touchdowns in nine games.

“Patrick has taken about 80 percent of all the snaps in all our practices since the end of last season,” Spurrier said. “He’s had time to work with all of our wide receivers. He is much more prepared now to play than at any time last season.”

Nine-year veteran Rob Johnson is expected to back up Ramsey this year. The Redskins signed Johnson last March from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he backed up Brad Johnson as the Bucs went on to win Super Bowl XXXVII. In his career, which also includes stops in Jacksonville and Buffalo, Rob Johnson has completed 483-of-786 passes for 5,702 yards and 30 touchdowns.

“Rob is ready to go,” Spurrier said. “He’s been with us most of the offseason and he’s pretty close to knowing our offense. It seems like the last couple years we’ve brought in a quarterback late or during training camp, and certainly that’s not what you’d like to do.”

Seventh-round draft pick Gibran Hamdan and undrafted free agent pickup Brad Banks are expected to compete for the third-string quarterback job.

“They’ll both get a chance to play quite a bit in the preseason,” Spurrier said.

Among the other training camp competitions to watch include battles at running back, wide receiver and free safety. At tailback, Trung Canidate, Ladell Betts, Kenny Watson and Chad Morton are all competing for playing time, according to Spurrier.

While the starting wide receivers roles are set with free agent acquisition Laveranues Coles and third-year player Rod Gardner, Spurrier foresees competition for several backup roles. Patrick Johnson, Darnerien McCants, Cliff Russell, rookie Taylor Jacobs, and others, are all in the mix.

At safety, Matt Bowen, David Terrell, Ifeanyi Ohalete and Andre Lott, among others, are expected to vie for playing time.


Spurrier: 'We Need to Become Fundamentally Sound'


Steve Spurrier's Opening Press Conference Sunday

By Jason Gould

Editor, Redskins.com

As the Redskins get ready to open 2003 training camp Monday morning, head coach Steve Spurrier said the Redskins have focused on two things to improve in the upcoming season: cutting down on mistakes and acquiring better players.

Spurrier vowed the Redskins will continue to focus on becoming a more fundamentally-sound football team in training camp. Washington was plagued by untimely turnovers and penalties in 2002 and Spurrier said the coaching staff would increase its emphasis on eliminating those mistakes.

In addition to stressing new ways to carry the ball, Spurrier said the Redskins will use referees more than last year for parts of training camp to enforce NFL rules. Spurrier said the coaching staff also has instituted a series of small fines for mistakes like fumbling and offsides during practice.

"What I learned last season," Spurrier said at a Sunday press conference at Redskins Park, "is that you lose in the NFL the same way you lose in college, high school and Pop Warner: If you have more turnovers than the other team, your chances aren't very good."

With the goal of winning the NFC East, Spurrier said the team has improved its personnel from last season. Establishing Patrick Ramsey as the team's starting quarterback and improving the offensive line and wide receiving corps all were upgrades that should increase the team's performance, according to Spurrier.

"We needed to go out and get better players," Spurrier said. "We juggled several quarterbacks last season, and we never had much continuity there. We strengthened some things, like pass protection."

For the first time since 2000, Washington will use Redskins Park, their regular-season practice facility, to hold training camp.

Said Spurrier: "We think it's going to be beneficial to have camp here at home. We believe using our facilities is better. We have three excellent grass fields here, a locker room, a training room and equipment room. It'll be more comfortable with fewer distractions."

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