By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
If Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs looked devastated by his benching of quarterback Mark Brunell in favor of Jason Campbell, his players appeared more enthused by the move. They looked at the decision not so much as a repudiation of Brunell but as hope that it can be a catalyst for a season that desperately needs one.
As players left Redskins Park yesterday -- one day after Gibbs announced that Campbell, 24, would make his first NFL start Sunday at Tampa Bay -- the consensus among them was: It's finally time to see what he can do.
Right guard Randy Thomas was home when his wife told him the Campbell switch was on the news. He didn't believe it at first.
"I'm pretty excited about it. You have a tough loss, you're sitting at home and all of a sudden you see it flash across the bottom of the TV," Thomas said. "You say, 'Man, that's a big-time move.' But I respect the move, and I think the guys are pretty anxious to protect him and get him his first career win."
"Sooner or later, he was going to get his chance. Look at this season. You can't just sit here and let him sit behind someone else," wide receiver Santana Moss said. "I guess the feeling is, 'We did all that we can do and more, and we can't just have this guy who we think highly of and we drafted just sit here and not even get a chance.' Now Jason's chance has come."
Campbell was gracious and excited about the move. "Mostly, I'm excited for the opportunity, just anxious to see what it feels like and get focused and get ready to play," he said. "Also you feel bad for Mark because he's the guy that's been mentoring me and a guy who's been in the business for a long time. So there are mixed emotions, but it's time for me to get focused on what I have to do."
Campbell spoke to Steve McNair of the Ravens and Donovan McNabb of the Eagles, quarterbacks to whom he is close and who years ago took over teams in midseason.Moss Shares His Pain
Moss is hurting. He has been fighting a strained left hamstring since the Redskins' 36-22 loss on Oct. 22 in Indianapolis and he missed the Redskins' 22-19 win over Dallas two Sundays ago. Moss missed practice much of last week but on Friday was upgraded to probable and played in Sunday's 27-3 loss to Philadelphia.
"I'm sore. I'm sore, frustrated, all of the above. Put it like that," Moss said. "You have A, B and C, and I'm all of that."
On Sunday, Moss finished with three catches for 17 yards, but usually ran crossing routes toward the sidelines. He did not run any of his signature wide receiver screens or slot screens, plays that maximize his ability to change direction.
But the play that most illustrated Moss's injury was the one that broke open the game, cornerback Sheldon Brown's 70-yard interception return for a touchdown.
The Redskins trailed 20-3 with 6 minutes 23 seconds left in the third quarter but were driving. On second and 10 from the Eagles 35, Brunell looked for Moss on a quick out to the right side at the 30. The throw was behind Moss and into the arms of Brown, who raced into the end zone.
On the play, Moss, one of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL, couldn't chase down Brown for even a few yards.
"I couldn't. There's no lie behind it, but I went out there to fight for my team and help them get a win," Moss said. "I made it through practice. I made it through warmups, and I had that burst. But I had it in the back of my mind that it was going to get tired, the leg was going to get tired, and when it gets tired you don't have any push behind it." . . .
Director of sports medicine Bubba Tyer said defensive end Phillip Daniels suffered two injuries to his right arm. In addition to a bruised forearm, Daniels aggravated a wrist injury that first occurred on Oct. 15 against Tennessee.