Sunday, August 31, 2003

Redskins take risk, keep two quarterbacks

NFL notebook: Ravens make it official: Boller to start at QB

The Associated Press

ASHBURN, Va. - It'll be much harder for Steve Spurrier to start three different quarterbacks this year: The Washington Redskins are keeping only two.

In a surprising move that relied on owner Dan Snyder's tie-breaking vote, the Redskins cut Danny Wuerffel and Gibran Hamdan on Saturday, which means Spurrier will start the season with just Patrick Ramsey and Rob Johnson available at quarterback.

"Right now, we're planning on dressing out two and hoping and praying that Patrick doesn't get hurt - or both of them don't get hurt," Spurrier said.

Asked to elaborate on the risks of keeping two quarterbacks - a rarity in the NFL - Spurrier repeated versions of the same answer several times.

"Any time there's a disagreement around here between coaches and the personnel staff, the owner makes the final call," he said. "That's the way it's set up. So all decisions are team decisions, and we all support it, and that's where we are right now."

Spurrier would not say which side he was on, but this is the coach who shuffled quarterbacks often at Florida and went through three starters last season, going through a rotation of Shane Matthews, Wuerffel and Ramsey - not once, but twice.

Spurrier also praised Wuerffel, who appeared to make a solid case for a roster spot by completing 13 of 19 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown in the exhibition finale at Jacksonville.

"Danny has proven he's very capable of playing," Spurrier said. "He statistically was our highest-rated guy through preseason, whatever that means."

Spurrier said the team plans to sign Hamdan, a seventh-round draft pick from Indiana, to the practice squad next week. If he needs a third quarterback during the game, Spurrier mentioned receivers Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner as possible fill-ins.

RAVENS: Kyle Boller will start at quarterback when Baltimore opens the NFL regular season in Pittsburgh next Sunday, winning the job from incumbent Chris Redman.

The Ravens' selection of Boller defies a couple of the league's unwritten rules. Rarely are rookies thrown in at the start of their careers, especially on teams seeking to make the playoffs.

And seldom do rookies earn a starting job after holding out. Boller missed a week of training camp.

But Ravens coach Brian Billick said those rules don't apply to the 19th overall pick in last April's draft.

"The physical skills are obvious; anyone that's seen the kid - even in a practice - can recognize that," Billick said. "But his ability to absorb the offense has been shocking to me, and I've been doing this for a while."

Teams continued to cut down their rosters in preparation for the 4 p.m. deadline today, when they must be at 53.

FALCONS: Despite losing Michael Vick for all of September, Atlanta will begin the season with only two healthy quarterbacks on its 53-man roster.

Atlanta cut 16 players, including fourth-string quarterback David Rivers, Saturday.

The earliest Vick could return from a broken bone in his lower right leg is a Week 5 home game with Minnesota. Until then, Doug Johnson will start at quarterback for the Falcons, who have only Kurt Kittner backing him up.

• Backup linebacker Keith Newman was suspended for four games by the league for violating the NFL's policy on anabolic steroids and related substances.

COLTS: Coach Tony Dungy appeared to declare Mike Vanderjagt the winner in the Colts' kicking derby Saturday.

Vanderjagt, the NFL's most accurate kicker, struggled during the preseason. He missed all three of his field goal attempts, including a 25-yarder in the preseason opener at Chicago.

Brett Conway was brought in to challenge Vanderjagt and perhaps give the Colts a stronger leg on kickoffs. Conway made one of two attempts, a 24-yarder against the Bears on Aug. 9, but it apparently wasn't enough.

EAGLES: Defensive end Jerome McDougle will miss at least two games with a high-ankle sprain, a mild knee sprain and a bruised hip bone in his left leg.

JETS: New York waived two quarterbacks, Marquel Blackwell and Todd Husak. That leaves Jamie Martin and Brooks Bollinger as the backups behind 39-year-old Vinny Testaverde.

Foley, Wilson cut in Bengals' purge
Lewis hints cuts likely to run deep
Who will stay? Who will go?
Bengals Q&A
Peppers watches fame grow beyond Carolina
Redskins take risk, keep two quarterbacks

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