Another Redskins Meltdown? Not With This Cool Breeze at Quarterback.

"Nothing bothers him, ever," Mike Sellers said of Jason Campbell, above, who called the winning play after his helmet radio malfunctioned. (By Toni L. Sandys -- The Washington Post)

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By Les Carpenter
Monday, November 27, 2006

The kid is cool.

All around the Washington Redskins, players with Pro Bowl pedigrees are making mistakes, rattling with the pressure of a season imploding. They miss tackles, make silly penalties and fumble balls they never should. Their collapse has been astounding.

And then there's the new quarterback. The rookie, the kid who was too fresh, too unsure for them to dare using back when the season mattered, back when the Redskins were losing to world-renowned giants like the Vikings, Titans and Eagles. He has played two games now. He has had a chance to experience Redskins calamities in the face of two of the league's more aggressive defenses.

And this is what they have learned about him.

"Nothing bothers him, ever," fullback Mike Sellers said.

Sitting a couple of feet away, running back Rock Cartwright nodded in solemn affirmation.

"He's real cool," Cartwright said.

Once again yesterday there was reason to worry about the future of the Redskins. Their latest offensive personality change had them going conservative, yet they weren't breaking any big runs, Santana Moss never seemed to get open and Chris Cooley dropped a pass while wide open downfield that might have set up a touchdown. Exactly the frustrations that have devoured quarterbacks here before.

Campbell didn't worry. Which is what impresses the Redskins the most. Because these are the times you never know about a young quarterback. You draft him, you prepare him, you hope he shows some glimmer of understanding. And yet when you actually put him in a game, let him see disaster looming, you never know what he's going to do. With Campbell, apparently nothing seems to fluster him.

"He was bred to play the game," Sellers said.

The moment that sold them yesterday came in the midst of what had been pretty much a dismal day for Campbell. For three quarters, most of his passes had sailed over receivers' heads or bounced at their feet. Once he threw a ball high to Brandon Lloyd, who had to jump to catch it, leaving the wide receiver exposed to the shoulder of Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis, who barreled into Lloyd, spinning him in the air and leaving him to tumble to the ground.

Then, with less than five minutes left in the game Campbell waited for a third-down play call. The crowd roared and the voice in his helmet went soft. He heard the formation the coaches wanted but not the play. Those who stood in the huddle with him watched in shock as he put his hands on the side of the helmet, banged them slightly over the ear holes and shook his head.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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