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PEETE STILL UNSURE; HE'S VYING WITH DETMER.

Byline: Associated Press

The public position is that both Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete have an equal shot to be the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles this season.

But for Peete, the reality is starting to sink in: Coach Ray Rhodes is predisposed to Detmer.

``I don't know if it (a decision) has been made, but they know what we can do,'' Peete said Wednesday after Rhodes said Detmer would start the team's first exhibition game Saturday against the New York Jets. Peete was scheduled to play the second quarter.

``In preseason, one quarter or two quarters is not going to make a difference,'' Peete said. ``You read into what you will.''

In announcing that Detmer would start against the Jets and Peete would start Aug. 11 against Pittsburgh, Rhodes insisted it didn't mean Detmer was ahead of Peete in the duel for the permanent starting job.

``It's early, real early,'' Rhodes said when asked who was ahead.

``I'm happy with the way things have gone,'' said Rhodes, who opened camp by saying he'd have a decision within three weeks. ``Both guys are very competitive.''

Having to fight for a job is nothing new to the former USC star, who spent his first five pro seasons battling Erik Kramer and/or Andre Ware to start for the Detroit Lions.

As a veteran of those quarterback controversies, Peete has learned it doesn't make any sense to make waves, so he's keeping a low profile.

``You've got to be cool with it, because it would drive you crazy if you don't,'' he said. ``You put so much pressure on yourself that you won't be able to perform.''

Peete said there is enough pressure built into the competition without fabricating any more.

``You can't come out here and say, `Ty threw five completions in a row, I have to throw six.' I'm not going to do that to myself,'' he said. ``In my younger days . . . it was a competitive thing in practice every day.''

Peete took over the starting job for an ineffective Randall Cunningham in 1995, five games into Rhodes' rookie season. It was in the fifth game last season that Peete lost the starting job due to injury.

Dropping back to pass against Dallas, Peete tore his right patella tendon and was gone for the season. The timing was bad: Peete had led the Eagles to a 3-1 start and Philadelphia had the NFL's top-rated offense.

``It was tough, because it happened early and I had to sit on the sideline and watch the games go down,'' he said.

Detmer, who spent his first four pro seasons backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay, took over and won his first four starts. As good as the Eagles looked under Peete, they looked better under Detmer.

Although Detmer lost five of his final eight starts, including a 14-0 loss in the playoffs at San Francisco, Rhodes and offensive coordinator Jon Gruden saw enough in those initial starts to make them believe Detmer could wring the most out of the Eagles' West Coast-style offense.

Detmer has heard the speculation that the job is his to lose but, like Peete, is taking a low-key approach.

``I feel comfortable in there and I feel confident when I'm in there,'' he said. ``You can't worry about if this happens or if that happens. I just have to go out there and play, and if that's good enough, great. If not, I'll be disappointed, but I'll be ready to play if called upon.''

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 3, 1997
Words:592
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