Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell said yesterday he does not intend to retire despite losing his starting job to Patrick Ramsey, as Coach Joe Gibbs insisted that Brunell will remain an important part of the team for years to come.
"It hasn't worked out these first nine games, of course, but I still have a lot of confidence," Brunell said. "I've had a lot of success in this league, and the body feels good. It's always one week at a time, one season at a time. But right now, going into this week, I'm the backup and that's my role, and I will have a good attitude and keep working hard and see where this goes."
Brunell, 34, admitted that it would be difficult to adjust. Although Brunell was a backup quarterback to rookie Byron Leftwich with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, the 11-year veteran lost his starting job because of injury.
"My role has changed," Brunell said. "I'll support Patrick through the whole thing. He's a great guy. I have a lot of respect for him."
The Redskins signed Brunell during the offseason to a seven-year, $43.36 million contract, which included an $8.6 million bonus. Brunell is statistically the worst quarterback in the NFL, swooning in the past five games as he completed only 44 percent of his passes, with four touchdowns and five interceptions.
"I disagree with the fact that it hasn't worked out," Gibbs said of Brunell. "We have a long ways to go here. His role in what he does here for the Redskins, we're going to find out over the next several years."
Asked if Brunell had a defined role with the team next year, Gibbs said, "I would say for several years."
If the Redskins release Brunell or if he retires before April 11, his contract would cost the club about $7 million against the salary cap, the league-mandated ceiling on players' salaries, in 2005. If the scenario occurred after June 1, the Redskins would incur a cap hit of about $2 million in 2005 and $6 million in 2006.
Griffin Is Ailing
Cornelius Griffin didn't practice yesterday after suffering a hip-flexor injury in Sunday's 17-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, but the defensive tackle is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Griffin was forced to miss the second half of the Bengals game, but an MRI exam indicated his injury was not serious. . . .
Redskins players declared out of the Eagles game are, as expected, linebackers LaVar Arrington (knee), defensive end Phillip Daniels (groin) and place kicker John Hall (groin). Cornerback Fred Smoot, who wasn't in pads for practice, is listed as probable with a shoulder injury. Linebacker Mike Barrow (knee) is questionable.
The Redskins promoted linebacker Billy Strother, a rookie from New Mexico, from the practice squad to the active roster. The move was made primarily because of the season-ending knee injury to linebacker Khary Campbell. The Redskins also signed linebacker Devin Lemons and wideout Gari Scott to the practice roster. Defensive back Omari Lowe was released from the practice squad, and Campbell officially was placed on the injured reserve list. . . . Gibbs said he has not spoken to safety Sean Taylor about allegations that he spit on Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh on Sunday. Although the NFL is investigating the allegation after a complaint by Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis, Gibbs stressed the need to be "careful" about making such a charge without conclusive evidence. Gibbs said that the league has not contacted the Redskins about the matter.