Campbell Shows Poise Under Pressure

By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 19, 2007

While most of his teammates already had left the visitors' locker room at Lambeau Field last Sunday, Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell remained seated at his dressing stall, taking a few minutes to review all that went wrong in a 17-14 loss to Green Bay.

His headset malfunctioned again, making it harder to communicate with the coaching staff, the makeshift offensive line suffered two more injuries and the wide receivers had an off day, leaving Campbell with little help offensively as the Redskins squandered a 14-7 halftime lead. But by the time Campbell prepared to board the team bus, his focus shifted to what he could do to help the Redskins put things in order again.

"From what I've seen of Jason, you're not going to see him start walking around hanging his head or panicking," left guard Pete Kendall said. "He's not going to look at what someone else isn't doing . . . he's going to focus on what he can do better. That's just who he is, and that's one of the reasons why he's so important to this team."

Despite only 12 career starts, Campbell has been a rock for the inconsistent Redskins, coaches and players said, providing production and leadership in the sport's most high-profile position. Campbell already has exceeded Coach Joe Gibbs's high expectations, overcoming the unexpected turnover on the offensive line and an unproductive running game in leading Washington to a 3-2 start. Adjusting to the scrutiny that accompanies playing quarterback for the Redskins, however, has been difficult at times for Campbell, who will be under the microscope even more now.

After a shaky second-half performance against the Packers, the Redskins play Arizona on Sunday at FedEx Field. If needed, Campbell said he's ready to shoulder more of the load.

"With all the injuries we have to our offensive line right now, it's tough, so I probably need to put a little bit more on my shoulders," he said. "It's not just about one guy, you need every guy on the team to pick each other up, but I also know what this team expects from me."

Campbell, 25, has done his part to stir optimism among Redskins fans after the team's 5-11 flop last season, completing 58.7 percent of his passes for 1,086 yards with five touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has rushed for 86 yards on 18 carries (a 4.8-yard average) and one touchdown. Campbell only has a middle-of-the pack 81.1 passer rating, but that statistic doesn't illustrate his importance to the team, the Redskins said.

"I'm just really proud of Jason," Gibbs said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do, and he's handled it really well. Of all the things I have to worry about right now, Jason isn't one of them."

The health of the offensive line is among Gibbs's main concerns, and Campbell is monitoring the situation closely, too.

The unit has been in flux since starting right tackle Jon Jansen broke his leg in the opener and was lost for the season. Right guard Randy Thomas tore his triceps in the second game, and he hopes to return in December.

Then against the Packers, center Casey Rabach and right tackle Todd Wade, Jansen's replacement, suffered groin injuries and sat out most of the second half. When backup tackle Stephon Heyer injured his hamstring late in the fourth quarter, Wade, who could barely move, returned to the game for the last few plays.

Rabach and Wade said they plan to play against Arizona. Heyer's status is unclear.

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