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Campbell Agrees to Terms; Portis Likes the New Offense

By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Quarterback Jason Campbell, one of the Washington Redskins' two first-round draft picks, agreed to terms on a five-year contract last night, league sources said, and will join the team for this afternoon's practice. Negotiations with injured cornerback Carlos Rogers, Washington's top draft pick, are ongoing.

Campbell, the 25th overall selection, could earn in excess of $20 million should he reach all of his contract maximums, sources said. He and his agent, Joel Segal, are expected to hash out the final details today and sign the deal prior to the club's 4 p.m. practice. Campbell rode a superb senior season to go from a potential undrafted player to a first-round pick.

Campbell and Rogers, teammates at Auburn, missed the first two sessions of training camp yesterday. Rogers' absence could last several more days, and he was not yet cleared to practice because of foot and ankle problems.

Portis on the Offense

Running back Clinton Portis provided a detailed critique of the Redskins' 2004 offense during the first media session of training camp. After struggling to get in the end zone much of last season -- Portis's forte during two seasons in Denver -- the coaches have changed the blocking schemes to suit him, going from a power, inside running team to one that uses zone blocking to capitalize on Portis's speed, deception and elusiveness. For Portis, the changes could not come soon enough.

"We tried to be a power team and bully over people," Portis said, "and we had athletic linemen who aren't necessarily just bull-over type of guys. I think the scheme we have now is more suited to them. Last year, we really didn't use our talent the way we should."

Portis had just five 100 yard games and five rushing touchdowns in 2004. The passing game, meantime, was among the worst in the NFL, and Portis said he could sympathize with former receivers Laveranues Coles and Rod Gardner, who were frustrated by the offense, asked to depart and were traded away.

"You have Laveranues Coles, probably one of the fastest guys in the league, and we didn't run a lot of go-routes last year," Portis said. "We had Rod Gardner, spectacular of making plays that you don't think he'll make and we really didn't have a big passing game. You have myself at 205 [pounds], trying to be Jamal Lewis [the Ravens' 245-pound running back]. So I think now our scheme suits our offense."

Warm Welcome

Safety Sean Taylor drew the ire of some teammates for boycotting the Redskins' offseason program and then getting arrested for felony assault in Miami, but said he received a warm welcome in the locker room during the first full day of training camp. Taylor is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 12 -- the case is likely to be moved back until after the season -- and will have to earn his way back into the starting lineup: He played with the second string defense yesterday.

"I'm glad my teammates were so welcoming," Taylor said after his first practice since the end of the regular season. "I'm glad to be back around here. I'm glad to be putting effort back into this organization with these guys and that's it. For the fans who are thinking I don't like to be up here in Washington, it's not that. It's just that when I have my offseason time, there're places you go. When I have my season and things that's lined up, that's where I'm at."

Taylor, who reported in excellent shape, said he skipped the workouts because they were not mandatory and offered no guarantees that he would take part in next year's offseason program. The prospect of three years in jail -- the mandatory minimum in Florida for his felony charge -- is not on his mind, either, he said. "That's why we got judges, we've got trials," Taylor said, "and we've got people who make decisions [about] what goes on in court. I'm not worried about anything. That's something for them to handle and I've got to worry about this [playing football] right now."

Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 draft, will have to work his way back to a starting role. "We kind of felt like this was the best place to start him," Coach Joe Gibbs said. Taylor spent considerable time after practice with fans, handing out backpacks filled with school supplies to spectators. The backpacks had the slogans "Education Is The Key," and "Dare To Be Different," stitched into them, along with Taylor's initials and No. 21.

Thrash Out

Wide receiver James Thrash missed the opening of camp due to the death of his father. Coach Joe Gibbs said the team was notified of the passing Sunday night and Thrash was excused from camp for as long as necessary. . . . Tackle Jon Jansen tussled with defensive lineman Charles Howard during a drill, but the exchange was quickly broken up.

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