Calling fourth-year Redskin Patrick Ramsey "our starting quarterback" and a player the team is seeking to build around, head coach Joe Gibbs reiterated Wednesday that he believes Ramsey has the skills to be a top-level player in 2005.
Hoping to clear up what they perceive to be inaccurate media reports in the days leading up to this weekend's NFL Draft, Redskins owner Daniel M. Snyder, Gibbs and vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato staged an hour-long media briefing Wednesday afternoon at Redskin Park.
Among many topics broached was the status of Ramsey, the 26-year-old former Tulane standout who took over for Mark Brunell in Week 9 a year ago. According to one media report, the Redskins may have an interest in Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell in Saturday's draft.
But Gibbs seemed to refute that notion Wednesday, saying: "Patrick knows how we feel about him. We are trying to get everything around him so he can do every single thing that he has to do to get us going into the playoffs."
The Redskins now hold the ninth and 25th pick in Saturday's draft, following a Tuesday evening trade with the Denver Broncos in which the Redskins gave up three picks for the Broncos' No. 25 selection this year. The Redskins relinquished their third-round pick this year and a first- and fourth-round selection in 2006.
Gibbs spoke in glowing terms of Ramsey on Wednesday. But at the same time he said the team is leaving all options open regarding its draft day preparations. Gibbs acknowledged that he visited the Auburn campus on Tuesday, among other stops aimed at helping the team prepare for the weekend's draft in New York.
"Obviously we have certain needs that we're looking at and you want to be prepared all the way across the board," Gibbs said. "I'm not going to get into specifics about a player, but we think we've had great preparation and we want to cover all of our bases no matter who might be sitting there that we think is of value.
"There are two things that come up: number one is need and the second thing is best player. You want to be prepared all the way across the board and I think that's what we're working toward."
In addition to first-round picks at No. 9 and No. 25, the Redskins hold selections in round four (112th overall), round six (183rd overall) and round seven (222nd overall).
Most of the Wednesday afternoon media briefing, attended by approximately 30 print and TV reporters, concerned the team's projections for their picks at No. 9 and No. 25.
Gibbs maintained that the team has a solid plan heading into the weekend and that the team's approach to handling major personnel decisions, which involves the head coach, Snyder and Cerrato, is primed for positive results. "I've never had a better working relationship," Gibbs said.
Prompting those comments was some level of miscommunication between team officials over the team's interest, or lack thereof, concerning Oakland cornerback Phillip Buchanon, who was traded to the Houston Texans on Tuesday evening.
Earlier this week, Cerrato was quoted as saying the team would not trade its No. 9 pick while Gibbs said the team was poised to explore various options to improve the 6-10 team.
The matter was clarified on Wednesday when Cerrato and Gibbs said the comments attributed to Cerrato earlier in the week should have indicated that the Redskins were not willing to trade their No. 9 selection for Buchanon.
The long and short of it, Gibbs said Wednesday, is that all members of the Redskins' braintrust are involved in a solid plan for Saturday's draft.
Said Snyder: "What we're concerned about the most are the fans. They need to be given accurate information."
He added: "In terms of our preparation for the draft, our fans need to know that our coaches and scouts have been giving an unbelievable effort. As far as Coach Gibbs, he's been non-stop, around-the-clock."
Among other topics, Gibbs said Wednesday that he's delighted that approximately 99 percent of the team's roster is taking part in voluntary off-season workouts. He said that he's "disappointed" that Sean Taylor has not been working out at Redskin Park and that the team is working its way through various issues with Santana Moss, the wide receiver obtained in the trade for Laveranues Coles. Moss has not been taking part in the voluntary, off-season workouts at Redskin Park.
Gibbs said the team doesn't feel any real pressure to come up with a player in the draft to fill the cornerback spot manned last year by Fred Smoot. According to the head coach, veteran Walt Harris remains one option and the team has talent among its cast of younger corners.
That the Redskins have landed such key players as center Casey Rabach, wide receivers Moss and David Patten, and defensive back Pierson Prioleau has not received enough media attention, Gibbs said. He said the team is still attempting to move forward regarding wide receiver Rod Gardner, who has been granted permission to seek a trade.