ASHBURN, Va. - Quarterback Shane Matthews will start for the Washington Redskins against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday if his left shoulder doesn't cause any problems, and Danny Wuerffel will be his backup, Washington coach Steve Spurrier said yesterday.
But Spurrier, who has developed an itchy trigger finger when it comes to yanking inefficient quarterbacks, said that the coaching staff would prepare first-round draft pick Patrick Ramsey "in case one of them gets hurt."
A magnetic resonance imaging yesterday revealed that Matthews bruised his non-throwing shoulder in the second quarter of Monday night's 37-7 spanking by the Philadelphia Eagles. The injury is not considered serious enough to prevent Matthews from playing Sunday.
"We'll check his shoulder situation and so forth," Spurrier said. "If he's 100 percent, Shane will still be our starter."
Matthews was injured when Eagles free safety Brian Dawkins hit the quarterback after releasing a pass late in the second quarter.
"The safety got me pretty good and drove me into the ground, I guess," Matthews said. "I don't know if I fell on my shoulder awkwardly or what, but it didn't feel right when I got up."
Matthews finished the first half, completing 10 of 22 passes for 62 yards, one interception and a quarterback rating of 33.5
Wuerffel didn't fare much better in the second half, getting sacked four times and throwing an interception en route to a 6-of-9 night for 57 yards.
Wuerffel has not been the same quarterback who completed 61 percent of his passes during the preseason, threw for four touchdowns, and earned a rating of 104.9.
"His confidence level is somewhat missing right now," Spurrier said of Wuerffel. . "He's done some things a couple of times out that I have never seen him do."
Wuerffel's shakiness has led Spurrier to say that he would evaluate Ramsey's progress this week. Although Ramsey has the strongest arm of the trio, Spurrier said the rookie from Tulane is not ready to start.
"But we'll try to coach him up a little bit more if Shane's hurt and so forth," Spurrier said.
Matthews expressed little worry about a renewed focus on Ramsey.
"It doesn't bother me one bit," Matthews said. "All I can do is what is asked of me. I played as hard as I could. There's a couple of throws I'd like to have back. We just got beat."
Spurrier also said that he expects defensive tackle Daryl Gardener to be ready to play Sunday.
Gardener, a free agent who left the Miami Dolphins and signed with the Redskins two months ago, sat out Monday's game after back pain prevented him from practicing last week.
Spurrier said a final decision would be deferred until the coaching staff watches Gardener during today's practice.
It takes a lot to scare Washington offensive tackle Jon Jansen, who stands 6 feet, 6 inches and 306 pounds, but even he had some concerns about the pepper spray that momentarily halted Monday night's game.
"If that had happened before last September 11th, you would've thought nothing of it," Jansen said. "We've all been in stadiums where the crowd gets out of hand and the police have to do stuff like that. [Now] you don't know what it is. Especially in this area, you're just not sure."
With about 6 1/2 minutes left in the game, an officer tried to stop the fight but there were too many people involved, the Prince George's County Police Department said in a statement. So he used pepper spray, which stopped the brawl and sent the attackers fleeing.
Cooling fans behind Philadelphia's bench pulled the spray towards the bench area, causing several Eagles players, including linebacker Ike Reese, to vomit.
Referee Bob McElwee announced that "a foreign substance" had been sprayed, causing some alarm in light of the Sept. 11 tragedies and the anthrax scares. The game was delayed for eight minutes to allow the spray to evaporate.