By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell focused on preparing his body for the 2009 NFL season as the team's offseason conditioning program began yesterday at Redskins Park.
"Right now is the time to try to get in the best shape you possibly can get in for what's coming," Campbell said in a lengthy telephone interview. "Quarterbacks lift weights during the season, but this is the time, in the offseason, where you lift a lot of the heavier weights to build muscle mass. When the season comes and you get hit during the season, you'll be getting some of those licks. You want to make sure your body is ready."
Campbell has worked extensively on strengthening his psyche. He took a long break from football following a season-ending 27-24 loss to San Francisco on Dec. 28, which completed the Redskins' 2-6 second-half collapse after a 6-2 start. Campbell was among the main targets of frustrated fans, who questioned his intelligence and leadership skills on Internet message boards and sports-talk radio.
Reenergized after his time away, Campbell was ready to return to work, he said, and encouraged about the team's major offseason moves, including the signing of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Despite lacking experience and depth at key positions, the Redskins have improved from last season, Campbell said, and it's time to move forward.
"After everything that happened, I wish we could have ended the season better. I wish we could have ended with a win against San Francisco," he said. "It would have been nice to end the season on a two-game winning streak and have that winning record, especially when we started the season the way we did, but we understand we can be a good football team. . . .
"We understand that it was the first year in our offense, the first year in a new [West Coast] system, and now guys are excited about the opportunity we have coming back with everybody knowing what to do with the offense, and especially with adding a guy like Albert Haynesworth to the defense. You have to feel good about all the moves right now."
The Redskins lured Haynesworth from Tennessee with a seven-year contract that could be worth $115 million based on his performance. The package includes $41 million guaranteed -- the highest total in league history -- and Haynesworth is assured of receiving about $32 million in the first 13 months of the contract.
The Redskins retained cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who signed with them in November, with a six-year contract that could be worth $55 million, including about $23 million guaranteed. Washington also brought back Derrick Dockery, a former Redskins draft pick and four-year starter at left guard who makes his year-round home near the complex. Dockery accepted a five-year contract worth almost $27 million after Buffalo unexpectedly released him in a salary cap move.
"Those are three positive moves," Campbell said. "Dockery is a guy who played beside [Pro Bowl left tackle] Chris Samuels here for [four] years. They have such a good chemistry together, so it's good to have another familiar face back in the huddle. It's not like we went out and got somebody new who we didn't really know. Dock is a guy who has been under [offensive line coach Joe] Bugel, and I know he'll do an outstanding job.
"Then you look at bringing in Albert Haynesworth, who's the giant. He's the Jolly Green Giant, and he's with us now. He's big, physical, he can move, and he can make plays. Most of the time, it's going to take two guys to block him, so that's going to free up the guys on the end, the edge rushers, to hopefully get a pass rush.
"And DeAngelo, he's a young, athletic corner. With him and Carlos [Rogers], you're talking about two athletic corners that are still young and still now just hitting the prime of their careers."
With the big financial commitments to Haynesworth, Hall and Dockery, the Redskins are only about $7 million under next season's $127 million salary cap. It appears Washington has big holes at right tackle, left defensive end and strong-side linebacker, and it lacks depth in key areas, but owner Daniel Snyder and Vinny Cerrato, Washington's executive vice president of football operations, "went out and got guys we really needed to help our team," Campbell said. "When guys like Haynesworth, Hall and Dock are available, you can't sit back and wait because you know there are a lot of other teams out there that won't wait. We have other guys that now have the chance to step up and maybe take some of those other spots, but you can't pass on guys like Haynesworth. There just aren't a lot of guys like him in the league at any position."
Campbell, whose contract expires after the season, hopes to join the ranks of the NFL's elite quarterbacks this season. In only his second full season as a starter, Campbell established personal bests with an 84.3 passer rating, 3,245 yards and 13 touchdown passes while throwing only six interceptions.
But the offensive line struggled in pass protection, and the receiving corps did not produce as Snyder and Cerrato hoped, which were among the main factors in the Redskins' poor performance offensively. Coach Jim Zorn's spread offense was not effective for many reasons, team and league sources said, but fans often singled out Campbell as being the biggest problem.
"As a competitor, I always believe in what I can do, but you know the naysayers are going to be there," Campbell said. "When it was all going good, when we were 6-2, everyone wants to pat you on your back. As soon as something falls apart, somebody's got to point the finger somewhere, and it always starts with the quarterback. It comes with the territory. This is going to be my fifth season in this league, and I understand how it works. But I always try to keep a positive mind-set about everything. Going back and watching the season, watching the film, I thought I had a really good year. . . .
"So I'm very positive about what I've done and what I can do better. That's where the excitement is for me, just getting the chance to go back out there and grow each year. That's what I'm looking forward to now. That's what I'm excited about, just the chance to lead this team to where we want to go."
Redskins Notes: Veteran defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn has agreed to terms on a one-year deal according to a league source. . . .
Place kicker Shaun Suisham signed his offer sheet and is under contract for 2009, according to the team. . . .
Defensive tackle Anthony Montgomery, who did not participate in the first day of workouts at Redskins Park, has not signed his new contract, he said yesterday. Montgomery recently received a package from the team explaining its tender offer, but he has not received an actual contract. . . . .
Clinton Portis participated in the first workout.
Staff writer Jason La Canfora contributed to this report.