By Nunyo Demasio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Patrick Ramsey assumed his new role as a backup quarterback for the Washington Redskins yesterday, conceding he was unhappy with the demotion but denying he had requested a trade.
Two days after Coach Joe Gibbs replaced him with Mark Brunell, Ramsey practiced with the team and said he remained confident about his abilities, and would not let the decision affect his performance.
"What's said between Coach and I, it's between us," Ramsey said. "I haven't specifically told Coach I want a trade in any way.
"I'm a Redskin right now. I'm going to concentrate on Dallas this week. And that's where we are."
Gibbs said unequivocally that Ramsey didn't request a trade.
In about a five-minute session with media members near the back entrance of Redskins Park, Ramsey was polite yet succinct -- almost business-like -- in answering questions. Players had been given Monday and Tuesday off.
Ramsey said that the developments haven't affected his confidence, and he would remain motivated.
"That's the only way you go about it: You compete," Ramsey said. "You go out there and do your best. At a certain point, pride takes over. And you play for pride and play to win and you play to go somewhere in this league."
Yesterday, teammates said that although Ramsey still seemed disappointed -- he wore his baseball cap tight and low early in the day -- he had handled the situation well. Ramsey had a solid practice taking limited snaps as the backup.
Gibbs said: "He's been very professional. I know he doesn't like it. I've got great admiration for the way he's handled this. I really do.
"And I think that says a lot about him. Patrick had a great attitude today and we're going to go to work because you never know in that situation he's in, at what point could you be back in the game."
In the previous 24 hours, Ramsey's best friend, right tackle Jon Jansen, advised the quarterback about speaking to the media.
"I know it's been frustrating for him," Jansen said, "but I've tried to tell him [to] let things settle down a little bit before you make any comments. And don't make emotional statements. And I think he's done a good job about being very professional about this.
"He's obviously very disappointed in a lot of things. But I think he's going to work on the things that coach wants him to work on. And when he gets his chance again, I think he'll be ready."
But Jansen noted that Ramsey has a reputation for his tact and a positive attitude regardless of the situation. Last preseason, Ramsey lost his job to Brunell in a quarterback competition. Although Ramsey started the final seven games of the season, his future was thrown into doubt when Gibbs drafted Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell in the first round in April.
"I've talked to him at length about some different things," Jansen said. "And the thing about it is, Patrick is old enough and he's mature enough and professional enough not to really need a whole lot of [advice]. I'm just there as a friend to support him and to be there for him when he does want to vent and talk about whatever he wants to talk about."
Tight end Chris Cooley was the most blunt teammate when asked to describe Ramsey's mood early in the day.
"It's just tough, especially since it's the first week," Cooley said. "He's been planning on starting for the season and it's tough the first week to just take the backup role.
"I would be [angry] right now. Personally, if I played and got ready all offseason and in one game [was benched], it would be hard for me to say, 'Okay.' But he's handling it fine."
One teammate said Ramsey was angry because he felt that Gibbs seemed bent on replacing him at the first opportunity. Ramsey left the game early in the second quarter after straining his neck when he was sacked by linebacker Lance Briggs. Trainers cleared Ramsey to play in the third quarter, but Gibbs stuck with Brunell.
Yesterday, the only question Ramsey declined to answer concerned his turnover issues (two touchdowns and four interceptions) during preseason games. Ramsey was intercepted once Sunday by the Chicago Bears and, according to another offensive starter who requested anonymity, that interception -- on Ramsey's second pass of the game -- occurred when a receiver ran the wrong route, adding to Ramsey's frustration about the decision.
Brunell, a close friend of Ramsey's, also spoke to his backup about handling the move. Brunell hadn't been benched in his NFL career until last season, when Ramsey replaced him for good during a Week 9 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Campbell knows all too well what Ramsey is feeling. He lost the starting job at Auburn after guiding the Tigers to a 4-1 record. Campbell said his coach sat him down and said that they would make a switch, allowing Campbell time to learn more.
"When it happened, it hurt my feelings," Campbell said. "But deep down inside I had a lot of pride. I knew that I could still go out there and do it. It was just a block in the road. You have to keep the faith. It's just a test of your faith."