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Vegas UFL team adds QB Rattay

The Las Vegas franchise in the fledgling United Football League won’t announce its name or unveil its uniforms until Monday. But at least the roster is taking shape.

Former Buffalo Bills quarterback J.P. Losman signed in July, and the team Thursday announced 19 more signings, including NFL veterans Tim Rattay (quarterback) and Teddy Lehman (linebacker).

Las Vegas coach Jim Fassel, who has 16 years of NFL coaching experience, seven as head coach of the New York Giants, said he’s impressed with the talent on his roster.

“I’m amazed at the quality of players that are out there,” he said Thursday from Los Angeles. “We ended up with some outstanding, quality football players with great attitudes.

“The quality of the games will be really good, simply because of the talent of the players we have.”

While Fassel emphasized Losman is his starting quarterback and the “cornerstone of the offense,” Rattay, 32, gives Las Vegas a capable backup.

The Louisiana Tech product played eight seasons in the NFL (2000 to 2007) with the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals.

A seventh-round draft pick by the 49ers in 2000, Rattay passed for 4,853 yards and 31 touchdowns with 23 interceptions in the NFL before failing to land a job last season.

“It’s great to have a guy who started in the NFL as your backup,” Fassel said. “He knows the game and doesn’t have to get used to the speed of the game and the intricacies of sophisticated defenses and offenses. He’s been there.”

More important, Fassel said, Rattay has accepted his reserve role and won’t be divisive.

“J.P. is the starting quarterback and Tim knew that when he signed,” Fassel said. “To me, the most important thing with quarterbacks is that the locker room is right. You don’t want your backup (to become) a locker room politician trying to move up. That’s not Tim. He’s very supportive and wants to go into coaching.

“He’s the perfect guy (to have) in the quarterback room with J.P. and our meetings. It will be a nice blend. That room, if you’ve got two guys competing for the job, sometimes it’s not real pleasant in there.”

Lehman, 27, is expected to anchor the defense. A two-time All-American at Oklahoma, he won the Butkus Award in 2003 as the nation’s top linebacker and the Bednarik Award as the top defensive player.

Lehman (6 feet 1 inch, 238 pounds) was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the second round in 2004 and played five NFL seasons with Detroit and Buffalo, compiling 150 tackles, two interceptions and a sack.

“He’s a hard-nosed inside linebacker with real good athletic ability and good size. He was a high draft pick in the NFL who played and started,” Fassel said. “He was a great player at Oklahoma, and those are the guys who kind of amaze me are on the street.”

Las Vegas also will feature former Oklahoma linebacker Brandon Moore, who played six seasons in the NFL, as well as former UNR linebacker Ezra Butler.

Butler signed with the 49ers in May 2008 as an undrafted rookie, but was waived a few days later after he was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana and possession of marijuana.

“He’s really a talented guy. He’s got potential,” Fassel said.

Other players signed by Las Vegas, which will host the UFL’s inaugural game Oct. 8 against San Francisco at Sam Boyd Stadium: tight end Adam Bergen (Lehigh); running backs Tyson Thompson (San Jose State) and Terrance Whitehead (Oregon); wide receivers David Kircus (Grand Valley State) and Andrae Thurman (Arizona); offensive linemen Jason Boone (Utah), Frank Davis (South Florida) and Brandon Joyce (Illinois State); defensive linemen Wendell Bryant (Wisconsin), Ross Kolodziej (Wisconsin) and Gabe Long (Utah); linebackers Ronnie Palmer (Arizona) and Brian Toal (Boston College); defensive back Nick Turnbull (Florida International); and cornerback Chaz Williams (Louisiana-Monroe).

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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