AP: Ramsey takes QB reins as Redskins open camp
By JOSEPH WHITE / Associated Press
Patrick Ramsey opened training camp Monday as the starting quarterback of the Washington Redskins, but not necessarily as the quarterback of the future.
Ramsey looked at ease — much more comfortable than last year — as he tossed passes to newcomers Santana Moss and David Patten and the rest of the receivers. Always the optimist, he spoke of making the best of his opportunity, even though his status has been muddled yet again by the team's decision to select a quarterback in the first round of the draft.
"As you stay in this business and play in the league for a while, you learn to just roll with the punches," Ramsey said.
Among the punches were a threatened trade to the Chicago Bears when Ramsey was negotiating his rookie contract in 2002. In 2003, Ramsey's problem was a foot injury that shortened his season.
Then, last year, coach Joe Gibbs arrived and promptly traded for veteran Mark Brunell. Ramsey eventually got the starting job back after Brunell struggled, then got a reality check in April when Gibbs said the Redskins were going to take Auburn's Jason Campbell with the No. 25 overall pick.
"Obviously I was surprised by it," Ramsey said. "But at the same time he said, 'We've got confidence for you to go out there and play.' And I trust that. I'm going to go out and do my best."
Of this year's quarterback threesome — Ramsey, Brunell and Campbell — Ramsey is the only one not hand-picked by Gibbs. In essence, Ramsey has been given the job with a one-year lease, knowing that Brunell's career is on the wane and that Campbell will probably need a season of grooming.
"Patrick's been up here a while now," Gibbs said. "He's been through some stuff a lot of young guys go through, to be truthful. He's established himself as the lead quarterback, and I would say he needs to take this thing and go with it now. Our opportunities in life — this is one where he's perfectly situated."
If Ramsey succeeds, he'll bring stability to a quarterback position that has been in flux more or less since the days of Mark Rypien in the early 1990s.
"Patrick's demeanor is that he's the starting quarterback of this football team, and he's going to be the leader of this football team," said Ramsey's good friend, tackle Jon Jansen. "We're only concerned about this year. And you know what? That's all we can ask for, and that's all we all have, is this year. And next year? Shoot, I've been around long enough to know that you can be here and gone real fast."
Physically and mentally, Ramsey is miles ahead of where he was 12 months ago, when he was coming off the foot injury and shaking off two seasons of unorthodox coaching from Steve Spurrier. Just the fact that he gets to go first in the practice drills helps his rhythm and confidence — and affects how he is viewed by teammates.
"Where you stand with the guys is what's different," Ramsey said. "But it's not something I'm going to assume. I want to produce early. ... I want to play well in the preseason and show that I deserve the distinction I have as a starter."
Ramsey's career quarterback rating is a modest 74.4, but he played well at the end of last season, completing at least 64 percent of his passes in five straight games. He has always had a strong arm, but he's worked to improve his touch passes this year. He's excited to have speedsters Moss and Patten, who should help him get the ball downfield more often and improve an offense that ranked 30th last year.
"I see potential," said Patten, who spent the last four years working with one of the game's best, Tom Brady, in New England. "I see the way he's running the huddle. He's just gotten more and more confident. He's really starting to take control of the offense."
Meanwhile, Ramsey maintains a clean-cut image untarnished by his NFL adventures. Fishing, hunting, golf, church and family have kept him balanced when other players might have turned bitter.
"I have an opportunity," Ramsey said. "I need to continue to earn the opportunity. You can't ask for more than that."
Notes:@ QB Jason Campbell agreed to a five-year contract late Monday, leaving CB Carlos Rogers as the team's lone holdout. ... LB LaVar Arrington (knee) and DT Brandon Noble (knee) did not practice and were placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List because neither passed the physical. Arrington declined to speak to reporters. "I've got to go to rehab," he said. ... WR James Thrash was excused because of a family matter. ... Attendance was 2,760, but the day definitely lacked the excitement surrounding Gibbs' first practice a year ago. "It was kind of a typical first day," Gibbs said. "Everybody looks sluggish the first time you get pads on."
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