ASHBURN, Va. - For third-string quarterback Patrick Ramsey, the coming bye week could be boiled down to a glorified tryout.
As the 1-2 Washington Redskins limp into their lone open date of the season with the 25th-ranked offense in the league, coach Steve Spurrier will give Ramsey, 23, the opportunity to show he's ready to make his first NFL start.
"It's something I've always wanted to do, but I'm trying to approach it from a professional standpoint," said Ramsey, final first-round pick (32nd) of April's NFL draft. "Just go into it, be prepared, be ready, and not get so caught up in the emotions of the matter."
Shane Matthews is still the team's No. 1 quarterback. But Spurrier said the team's lack of scoring - including one offensive touchdown in the past eight quarters - has forced him to evaluate Ramsey before the club's Oct. 6 game with the Tennessee Titans (1-2).
"Necessity brings things about more quickly," Spurrier said. "Whether or not he can make decisions and step back there and pitch it around, maybe we need to find out pretty soon."
Ramsey's move from doghouse to a possible penthouse would be a surprisingly swift transformation. Drafted out of Tulane, he missed 16 days of training camp over a contract dispute.
There was even talk that Spurrier was willing to entertain trade proposals for Ramsey from the Chicago Bears.
Ramsey saw only spot action during the preseason, completing 17 of 34 attempts for 219 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
But the Fun 'N' Gun system transplanted by Spurrier from his days as the University of Florida coach has stalled under the direction of Matthews and backup Danny Wuerffel - both of whom played for Spurrier as Gators.
In Washington's season-opening victory over the Arizona Cardinals, the Redskins posted 31 points, four touchdowns and 442 yards.
So now, Spurrier will increase Ramsey's time with the first team - Ramsey estimated that he took "maybe less than a quarter" of snaps with the first team last week - to judge Ramsey's readiness.
After watching his defense surrender 252 rushing yards Sunday to the 49ers, defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said all the finger-pointing can stop with him.
"Anytime you're not having success, there's got to be something wrong," he said. "I'll shoulder the blame."
Although admirable, Lewis' mea culpa won't do much good if a Washington unit that boasts 22 Pro Bowl appearances among its 11 starters continues to wallow as the 25th-ranked defense.
Opponents are averaging 358 yards against the Redskins, who are still acclimating themselves to their fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons.
Perhaps the player making the biggest leap is linebacker LaVar Arrington, who is trying to transform himself into a quasi-defensive end - a la Peter Boulware of the Ravens.
The lines of communication between Arrington and Lewis became somewhat frayed last week when Lewis publicly chastised Arrington for missing several tackles and playing out of position in the loss to the Eagles.
Yesterday, Arrington was asked to describe his relationship with Lewis. Arrington let out a chortle before he answered, "He's a coach. I'm a player. I'm coachable."
For his part, Lewis said that he is having fun coaching Arrington and that the linebacker is "progressing" nicely.
"He was great on the sidelines, understanding when he made an error that you've got to tighten up this and tighten up that," Lewis said. "And he went back in there and made a couple of plays. That was nice to see."
NOTES: The Redskins escaped Sunday's loss with few injuries. Defensive end Bruce Smith dislocated the ring finger on his right hand, but it probably won't prevent him from playing against the Titans. Offensive tackle Chris Samuels and running back Stephen Davis will use the bye week to heal groin muscle strains. Spurrier said he would rest Matthews to heal his bruised non-throwing shoulder. ... The 252 rushing yards Washington allowed Sunday was the most the team had given up since the Buffalo Bills racked up 266 yards in a 38-13 rout on Nov. 3, 1996.