By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 30, 2006
ORLANDO, March 29 -- Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said Wednesday that Jason Campbell, a first-round draft pick last year, will be given a chance in training camp and during the preseason to win the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Mark Brunell.
Campbell was third on the depth chart last season behind Brunell and Patrick Ramsey. But with Ramsey having been traded to the New York Jets, Gibbs said that Campbell will compete with free agent newcomer Todd Collins for the job as next season's primary backup.
Gibbs said that he and his assistant coaches will make the decision based on the play of Campbell and Collins during the preseason games.
"He'll play a lot in the preseason," Gibbs said during the NFC coaches' breakfast on the final day of the annual league meeting. "You'll probably get a good feel for that coming out of the preseason. We'll see how they play, and everyone will have an opinion."
Collins previously was with Al Saunders, the Redskins' new offensive boss, in Kansas City, and Gibbs said that Campbell's preseason playing time can be increased because Collins doesn't have to learn the offense. He also said he will try to limit Brunell's practice-field snaps, both during training camp and the season, in an effort to keep the veteran healthy.
Gibbs acknowledged that Brunell's leg injuries during his two-year Redskins tenure make for an ongoing concern, and he's spoken to the quarterback about adding a flexibility program to his training regimen.
"He can probably take a little less work during the week, too. . . . Some guys want all the reps, but I think Mark is real comfortable," Gibbs said.
Gibbs said the Redskins continue to look for help at linebacker and are anxiously awaiting the outcome of safety Sean Taylor's trial on felony assault charges. "It would be a real struggle for us" to replace Taylor, Gibbs said.
Gibbs indicated that he's pleased with the Redskins' offseason additions but thinks every other team in the NFC East also will be improved. The Dallas Cowboys have done their best to match the Redskins, bold move for bold move, this offseason, signing wide receiver Terrell Owens to a three-year, $25 million contract following his release from the Eagles, which ended his troubled stay in Philadelphia.
"I think that makes good sense for them," Gibbs said. "If I had to say, I'd guess he'll play his guts out because he's kind of up against it. If I had to say, I'd say he'll play great. . . . I don't think there's anyone in our division who hasn't improved themselves. That's going to be six tough [games] there."
Gibbs said he feels healthy two seasons into his five-year contract and that the Redskins' success this past season -- when they went 10-6 and reached an NFC semifinal after going 6-10 when Gibbs returned to coaching in 2004 -- has given a dose of confidence to everyone in the organization.
"We had a miserable first year," he said. "That's real hard on you. You go into the second year knowing you need to get something done to get some confidence in everyone.
"Last year was good for us because it builds some confidence. . . . It's where you think you're supposed to be. I signed a five-year deal and I plan on living up to it. . . . Health-wise and everything, I don't think there's a problem."
Redskins Note: Washington will open the preseason with a game at Cincinnati on Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. that will be televised nationally by NBC.
The Redskins' other preseason opponents will be the Jets, New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. They'll host the Jets sometime between Aug. 17 and 21, play at New England between Aug. 24 and 28 and host the Ravens between Aug. 31 and Sept. 2.