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VA PILOT: Gamewatch: Redskins at Rams


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Gamewatch: Redskins at Rams

By JIM DUCIBELLA, The Virginian-Pilot

© August 27, 2004


The plot: Although coach Joe Gibbs continues to insist that nothing’s been decided for tonight, Patrick Ramsey will start. Realistically, this is his last chance to show that he should be the starting QB over Mark Brunell. Depending on Gibbs, Washington’s final preseason game on Sept. 3 should either be an extensive tune-up for the starters or a final opportunity to evaluate reserves and give the backups some valuable game experience. Ramsey hasn’t exactly burned up the field this summer, completing 10 of 27 passes for 115 yards, with one interception.

The subplot: For the second week in a row, seven players didn’t even make the trip because of injury. Among them: LB LaVar Arrington (sprained left knee), LB Mike Barrow (tendinitis in left knee), TE Fred Baxter (knee), LB Chris Clemons (hamstring), DE Phillip Daniels (abdominal strain). While their extended absence has enabled players like LB Antonio Pierce to establish themselves as more than special-teamers, it isn’t helping players mesh their skills or timing. That may lead to some critical communication letdowns come the regular season.

Things to watch: Can Brunell do anything to solidify what appears to be his first-string status ? He has played increasingly better each week. … Will oft-injured RB Ladell Betts finally get on the field and show that he could be a capable backup to Clinton Portis? Or does John Simon continue to make a strong bid for what could be a valuable role? … WR Gari Scott’s stock slipped a bit after he fumbled a punt last week. WR Taylor Jacobs finally got on the field and, despite just one catch, drew praise from Gibbs. Does either shine tonight? … Is Kenyatta Jones fitting in at RT? … Gregg Williams’ defense is No. 1 in the league, not that preseason matters. The blitzes he promised are coming more frequently each week. What’s next? … The Rams built their offense around speed. Redskins rookie S Sean Taylor hasn’t seen receivers like theirs on the field at the same time before. Williams is worried that Taylor’s ****iness and reliance on natural ability will cost him.

Head’s up, history buffs: The last time the Rams beat the Redskins in a preseason game was 1962. More trivia? Mike Martz is 43-21 as Rams coach, a .672 winning percentage that is fourth-best in NFL history among those who have coached 50 games or more since 1966. Who’s immediately ahead of him? Joe Gibbs, at .674.

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