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Thread: Smart money is on Ryan
Smart money is on Ryan
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
For a while, Ryan Fitzpatrick's Rams teammates called him "Harvard" and expected him to know the answer to every question.
"I've heard just about everything," Fitzpatrick said. "During training camp, some guys were in a big, heated discussion. So I walked over to see what they were talking about. And they said, 'Fitz, you can answer this question. You're from Harvard.' "
OK. Fitzpatrick thought it probably was a trivia question. Or maybe something about history.
"And then they asked, 'What do you think would hurt more?' " Fitzpatrick recalled. "'Getting hit in the face by the trunk of an elephant? Or being kicked in the face by a donkey?'"
Fitzpatrick may not have known the answer to that question. But the Rams think he's the answer to their quarterback question.
It's an ever-shrinking supply of QBs, by the way. Marc Bulger remains sidelined with an injured throwing shoulder. Jamie Martin, who has a concussion, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Washington.
"Jamie Martin still has blurred vision," interim head coach Joe Vitt said. "He flunked his baseline test, so he couldn't go (Wednesday)."
The baseline test determines whether a player still has symptoms from a concussion. With Martin and Bulger sidelined, the only quarterbacks throwing passes Wednesday in practice were Fitzpatrick and Jeff Smoker.
Even though Fitzpatrick handled all the work with the starting unit, Vitt continues to play a cat-and-mouse game about who will start against Washington.
"It's unbelievable, isn't it?" Vitt joked, when asked about it. "It's just like the Kennedy assassination."
In this case, no conspiracy theories apply. It's so obvious that Fitzpatrick is starting, Vitt's attempt at deception seems silly. But what's a rookie to do? Fitzpatrick is smart enough to play along with the coach.
Are you starting Sunday, Ryan?
"We're not sure yet what the deal is," Fitzpatrick responded, with a straight face. "I really don't think we know right now what's going to happen. So I'll go into practice and take advantage of the reps that I do get and then we'll see how it plays out."
There's no doubt Fitzpatrick is the people's choice in the locker room after throwing for 310 yards and three touchdowns Sunday in Houston. That performance got Fitzpatrick named the NFC's offensive player of the week.
Some veterans, such as wide receiver Isaac Bruce, had mild praise.
"It's only been one game," Bruce said. "But Ryan came in, and his eyes weren't wide open. He came in with a confidence and just played. Just got the calls from the guys on the sideline and executed."
Others were more outspoken in their praise of Fitzpatrick.
"I knew he had it in him," defensive end Anthony Hargrove said. "I was just ready for them to put him in. When I saw him in preseason, I knew he had it. I've been waiting to see him all year."
What exactly is the "it" that Hargrove observed in the preseason?
"Just the ability to come in and play," Hargrove said. "Some guys, you can just kind of look at them and know: 'That dude, if you need to call on him, he can do it.'
"When he got in there (against Houston), you could just see everybody kind of get excited. Because he brings a new element to the game for us."
But it's one thing to succeed against Houston and its 30th-ranked defense. Washington brings the NFL's 10th-ranked defense to the Edward Jones Dome.
Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams could be one of the leading candidates for the Rams' head-coaching job if Mike Martz does not return in 2006. Make no mistake, Williams would like nothing better than to submit his resume by harassing Fitzpatrick all day long.
"Washington's a great defense," Fitzpatrick said. "They have been year in, year out for a while now. So I think we're definitely going to have a big challenge in front of us this week. They're a physical team. They're very aggressive. And they have a lot of speed."
After just three quarters of work for Fitzpatrick in an NFL regular-season game, the Redskins won't have a book on him. His scrambling ability makes him that much more unpredictable. But Washington is a team that likes to blitz. That's unlikely to change Sunday, given the Rams' injury situation at tackle, their troubles handling blitzes lately, and Fitzpatrick's inexperience.
"Throwing a rookie quarterback in there, there are a lot of things that you haven't seen or haven't experienced," Fitzpatrick said. "And with the step-up as far as the speed of the game - that's the biggest thing - they're going to try to go in there and confuse you."
-12-01-2005 #2Registered User
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Re: Smart money is on Ryan'What do you think would hurt more?' " Fitzpatrick recalled. "'Getting hit in the face by the trunk of an elephant? Or being kicked in the face by a donkey?'"
Definitely the donkey. That would hurt, big time.
-12-01-2005 #3Registered User
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Re: Smart money is on Ryan
Is that a class at Harvard now? What Hurts More 101