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Palmer looks to rebound as Bengals face #039;Skins

The Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. - Carson Palmer's first pass of the preseason was underthrown deep down the sideline and intercepted.

Patrick Ramsey's second pass of the preseason was underthrown deep over the middle and intercepted.

Neither young quarterback was particularly crisp when the Cincinnati Bengals and Washington Redskins began exhibition play last week.

Palmer was 4-for-7 for 37 yards and failed to produce a scoring drive in just over a quarter of action against New England. Ramsey went 8-for-12 for 77 yards and couldn't get a score despite playing nearly the entire first half, with at least two drives against Carolina's second-string defense.

The difference is that Palmer has quite a bit of cushion as the Bengals' starter, while Ramsey is probably just a few bad throws away from facing yet another good old-fashioned Redskins quarterback controversy. Washington fans will be anxious to see some kind of progress - a sustained drive, a long pass completed - when the Redskins host the Bengals on Friday night.

The players are just as anxious.

''We've got to go out there and show some consistency,'' said receiver David Patten, whose speed is supposed to help create the deep passing threat that was missing last year. ''We've got to show that we're going to be able to complement our defense.''

Washington coach Joe Gibbs has committed to Ramsey as his starter over Mark Brunell, but Brunell was the more poised quarterback against the Panthers. Ramsey's performance has been spotty throughout training camp - it looks sometimes as if he's trying too hard - and the questions he's hearing are getting a bit repetitive.

''Same thing I tell you every time I talk to you,'' Ramsey said this week when asked about the goals for the Bengals game. ''I hope to move the team, complete balls and score. Obviously that's what we're planning on.''

As for Palmer, he had two good chances to hook up deep with Chad Johnson against the Patriots, but he was short both times. At least the running game looked up to speed - Chris Perry rushed for 41 yards, and Rudi Johnson had 40 in limited action.

''We need to do a better job of finishing plays,'' Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis said, ''as well as making plays - on offense and defense.''

Friday's game could mark the 2005 debut of Bengals receiver Peter Warrick, who recently returned to practice after a long rehabilitation from a knee injury. The No. 4 overall pick in 2000 will have to work his way back up the depth chart, where Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh are well-entrenched as the starters.

''I'm not worried about competition,'' Warrick said. ''I don't have time to worry about where I'm going to be in all this. They (the coaches) know football players. They make the decision on how things go. I just go out and make plays.''

Both teams will be cautious with players battling minor injuries. Washington running back Clinton Portis needs to rest a sore elbow, so he might get the night off. Bengals kicker Shayne Graham is nursing a sore groin, and rookie linebacker Odell Thurman hurt his knee in practice this week.

The Redskins' top draft pick, cornerback Carlos Rogers, is expected to make his debut, returning from an ankle injury. He's ahead of the Bengals' top selection, linebacker David Pollack, who didn't arrive in camp until Wednesday to end a 19-day holdout.

But most eyes will be on the first-string offenses, and whether either of them can reach the end zone. Nearly everything said by each coach about his offense this week could easily have been said by the other.

''Hopefully,'' Gibbs said, ''as we go here in preseason, we'll get in groove with our whole offense.''