Key players: Patrick Ramsey, Rob Johnson, Gibran Hamdan.
Others to watch: Brad Banks. The Heisman runner-up could have some big moments in preseason because of his running ability, not to mention his penchant for making plays when the pocket collapses. But that might not be enough to bump Hamdan from the roster. Steve Spurrier knows Hamdan is a project so he'll give him a couple years to grow, even if Banks looks better this summer.
Can't wait to see: Ramsey's development. Ramsey is the best young quarterback I've seen in my 10 years covering the team. That's not saying a whole lot given the others, but he looks way better than Heath Shuler ever did--even in practice--and he's far ahead of Gus Frerotte. Why? Because Ramsey is desperate to learn and improve. He's highly driven to succeed, which, paired with his strong arm, should equal solid play.
Don't be fooled by: Johnson's talent. His background suggests someone who should always be better than he is. But few quarterbacks take more sacks than Johnson. That suggests indecisiveness, a no-no in this system.
Trouble spots: If too much is placed on Ramsey, the offense still will be inconsistent. Thing is, this offense will always put a lot of pressure on a quarterback. Remember, Ramsey only started five games last year and still has a lot to learn. He's capable of being very good, but when? That's hard to answer. At least the protection should be solid if Johnson must play. But heaven forbid something happens to Ramsey and Johnson. Then again, how many teams are equipped to handle such a scenario?
Strength: Ramsey's courage. He'll stand in the pocket and keep his eyes downfield, looking for receivers to break free at the last second. With better protection up front and more speed on the outside, that should result in more big plays. Ramsey also understands protection much better, a major improvement. He'll know who should be blocked and attack the defense accordingly. Last year, he operated without that knowledge. That alone will help him relax in the pocket.
John Keim has covered the Redskins since 1994.
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