Ramsey Is 'Confident' As Starter

By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Quarterback Patrick Ramsey was near his home town of Ruston, La., on the 15th hole of the Squire Creek Country Club on Saturday when the Washington Redskins selected quarterback Jason Campbell with the 25th overall choice in the NFL draft. Ramsey said yesterday at Redskins Park that he wasn't surprised because Coach Joe Gibbs had given him a heads-up that the club would consider drafting another quarterback early.

"Because I was aware of the situation, because I talked to Coach Gibbs about it, I wasn't surprised," Ramsey said. "I'm focusing on going out there and playing well. And the truth is if I do that, then everything takes care of itself.

"I feel confident in my ability to lead this team. It's a situation for me where I have every opportunity to go out there and be successful."

Ramsey met with Gibbs yesterday for the first time since last week, when Gibbs revealed that Washington was contemplating choosing a quarterback. Ramsey seemed so self-assured that he hardly discussed the new quarterback. Instead, he expressed concern about the status of incumbent number three quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, who met with Gibbs separately.

Ramsey spoke excitedly about next season, and said that he was already practicing taking shotgun snaps after new quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave persuaded Gibbs to try the formation in offseason practices.

During Ramsey's draft-day golf session, his wife Ginny called intermittently to inform him about the draft. She expressed sympathy for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, once considered a possible No. 1 overall pick who slipped to No. 24. Just before Rodgers was chosen by Green Bay, Ramsey predicted that Washington would draft him.

"To be honest with you I expected it," Ramsey said of Washington choosing a quarterback. "At that point I thought he [Gibbs] wouldn't have [talked to Ramsey before the draft] if he didn't expect it was a distinct possibility."

Last spring, Ramsey's agent, Jimmy Sexton, requested a trade after Gibbs dealt for veteran quarterback Mark Brunell. But Ramsey's worries were eased after Gibbs assured him that a quarterback competition would determine the starter. After losing that competition, Ramsey regained the job by the 10th game of the season. He said that the experience -- with Gibbs keeping his word -- has helped.

"Coach Gibbs has never given me any reason not to believe him," Ramsey said.

Despite Ramsey's nonchalance about Washington choosing Campbell, right guard Randy Thomas admitted that if Washington selected a guard in the first round, he would feel extra pressure.

"I was kind of shocked," Thomas said. "If it was a guard I would feel that I can't make any mistake. It would make me go all-out. But Patrick is working so hard and doing well so I don't see any threat. It'll make him strong. Watch and see."

Gibbs added, "Anybody sitting in that situation prefers you draft someone else."

Ramsey's hopes that the situation turns out in the same fashion as it did for the San Diego Chargers during the 2004 season: In 2003, San Diego finished 4-12 under quarterback Drew Brees. To start the 2004 draft, the Chargers dealt the top overall pick (Eli Manning) to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers, who the club publicly declared the quarterback of the future. Rivers had a protracted holdout, missing half of training camp before signing a six-year, $40.5 million contract.

The holdout allowed Brees -- who was initially drafted in the second round in 2001 -- to maintain the starting job. With an upgraded offensive unit, Brees responded with a Pro Bowl season -- 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions -- leading the Chargers to the AFC West title and the club's first playoff appearance since 1995.

"My situation is similar" to Brees's, Ramsey said. "But it's also a little different for me because I've been told I have an opportunity to lead this team. I'm the starter here until I prove otherwise. I expect us to go to the playoffs and hopefully we'll go a little bit farther than Drew did."

Gibbs said of the San Diego situation, "We would love to have that happen."

Gibbs wouldn't say whether the team would first try trading Hasselbeck. Gibbs said he will be sensitive to Hasselbeck's seemingly inevitable departure after the player and his agent, David Dunn, discuss their options. Being released would allow Hasselbeck to choose his team.

"The knee-jerk reaction is to get upset about something," said Hasselbeck, who was listed as a third-string quarterback in every game last season. "But the only way I know how to deal with this kind of stuff is to come in and work hard and trust that if you're a good enough player, you'll get end up getting an opportunity to play."

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