Starting quarterback Mark Brunell spent most of yesterday's practice on the sideline because of a left hamstring injury, while backup Patrick Ramsey took most of the snaps in preparation for Monday night's game against Dallas. Coach Joe Gibbs did not rule out Brunell starting that game but it continues to appear likely that Ramsey will get the start.
Gibbs said Brunell did "very little" during practice but is keeping his options open. "Right now we're just working though it one day at a time," Gibbs said of the quarterback situation.
Brunell said he has been feeling better each day since straining his hamstring during Sunday's 20-14 loss at New York and is aiming to play Monday. If it were up to him, Brunell said, he would start Monday but he repeatedly has emphasized that is a coaching decision. "It's too early to tell and ultimately it's Coach Gibbs's decision," Brunell said. "But I'm shooting for it. I really want to be a part of that game."
Ramsey said he is benefiting from the extra work at practice and expects to improve on the three interceptions he threw after relieving Brunell Sunday. "I think I'll feel much better going into this game just getting the repetitions in practice," he said.
Joe Bugel, the assistant head coach-offense, said eliminating mistakes by the quarterbacks will be essential against the Cowboys' fast and aggressive defense.
"Coach Gibbs meets with the quarterbacks and wide receivers every morning to go over the game plan," Bugel said. "They hear the game plan about three or four times and he stays right with the quarterbacks. It's a precision offense. If it's three steps, throw the ball on three steps; if it's five, throw the ball on five. Do not go back there and try to make pizza pies, that's a disaster in the National Football League. If you're supposed to throw it and it's not there, feed your best friends up in the stands."
Bugel said he is unsure if Ray Brown or Kenyatta Jones will start at right tackle Monday but anticipates the offensive line will see a lot of blitzes from Dallas regardless of the personnel. "They may start blitzing us when we get off the bus," Bugel said.
Bugel has a long rivalry with Cowboys Coach Bill Parcells and said his tough-guy image is well deserved. "I've seen him fight," Bugel said. "He's good with his dukes."
Bugel was taken aback when informed of comments former Redskin John Riggins made about Gibbs on his radio talk show. "I really don't like saying this," Riggins said on Sirius radio, "but it's what I think and feel so I have to say it. I don't think Joe Gibbs is right yet. I think there's uncertainty in Joe Gibbs. I think that Joe Gibbs is somewhat pre-disposed, and that he's thinking about other things. I use the term psychological splitting, he's there as the head coach, but he's really somewhere else."
Bugel responded: "I'm awfully disappointed if Riggo said that. . . . If he said that it's totally wrong and I'd say that right to his face."
Parcells Has Feelings
Parcells said he has special feelings attached to Monday's game as he faces his Gibbs for the first time since they both returned to coaching, but did not appear to be relishing his role as the favorite in the contest. Parcells said his team has much to improve upon after finishing 10-6 in 2003, his first season as coach of the Cowboys.
"One of the harder steps in football is to get from being essentially a playoff team," Parcells said, "which is what we were, to a team that's really in contention and a real contender. . . . It's a big step to get out of that and sometimes you regress first. You're not able to maintain."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, wife of third-string quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, revealed during "The View" that the couple is expecting their first child. She is a co-host of the television show. Hasselbeck could be in line for his first appearance of the season; if Brunell is not able to dress for Monday's game then Hasselbeck would back up Ramsey.