Quarterback Patrick Ramsey gets his turn in Washington's quarterback carousel competition when the third-year veteran starts Friday's game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome. With only two preseason games left, observers are looking for any signs that Mark Brunell -- who was considered the favorite after receiving an $8 million bonus in the offseason -- has already won the job.

Coach Joe Gibbs maintains he will name a starter following the final exhibition, Sept. 3 against the Atlanta Falcons at FedEx Field. Gibbs said it would be premature to assume he has a starter in mind beforehand.

"If somebody jumps at it, that's their problem," Gibbs said, chuckling. "I think they'll have a tough time guessing what we're going to do."

Because Brunell (a 71.9 rating on 17 completions in 32 attempts) has performed better than Ramsey (35.5 rating on 10 of 27), there is a presumption that Ramsey has one more shot to win the job -- Friday.

"I'm just going to try to run our offense efficiently," said Ramsey, who was 3 for 8 against Miami after taking over in the waning moments of the first half. "And if it takes handing the ball off like we did last week and winning the game, then that's what we're going to do. So I'll just go out there and just be smart and be efficient. That's all I'm really counting on."

Ramsey, who is known for his ultra-competitive nature, appeared to be irked yesterday when a reporter asked if he would be disappointed at losing the competition.

"I'm not knocking you, but that's kind of a crazy question," he said. "Any competitor is going to be disappointed. Any competitor wants to start. But I'm not going to think about that right now, but at the same time, I know there's going to be something I can learn from it if I do or don't start. Either way, I think I can become a better player."

Russell on the Rebound

Wide receiver Cliff Russell was one of the fastest players selected in the 2002 draft, picked in the third round by Washington because of his promise. However, Russell's short NFL career has been plagued by injuries, keeping the University of Utah product from translating his world-class speed into success on the professional level.

Russell's latest ailment was a pulled hamstring that forced him to miss about three weeks of practice. Russell, who practiced yesterday for only the third time in preseason, has only two more games left to impress a coach whose deepest unit is wideouts.

"There's probably a little bit more pressure," Russell said after practice. "I kind of feel like I have to play catch-up now. A lot of guys are out there doing really well, and getting good work in."

In his first NFL training camp practice in 2002, Russell suffered a season-ending knee injury. Last season, he was active for three games, and caught two passes for 10 yards.

Arrington Still Sidelined

Linebacker LaVar Arrington, who missed last Saturday's game with a sprained left knee, missed a third straight practice because of the injury. Arrington's status is considered day-to-day. Linebacker Mike Barrow, who has missed almost three weeks of workouts with knee tendinitis, participated in running drills for the first time in several sessions.

Injuries have limited wideout Cliff Russell's opportunities to show off his world-class speed.