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Redskins' Campbell Responds to Doubts With a Sharp Outing

The Washington Redskins' first-team offense scored 17 points in the first half in a 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots.

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By Jason Reid
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 29, 2009

Apparently Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is capable of playing effectively in the preseason.

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Campbell expressed surprise at the negative reaction among some members of the media and fans about his performance and statistics, and he hoped to have a solid outing Friday night against the New England Patriots in an effort to allay concerns with the regular season beginning in a little more than two weeks.

At the very least, Campbell and the first-team offense displayed progress as they had their best showing of the preseason in front of 69,384 at FedEx Field. The Redskins' starters kept pace with the Patriots' formidable offense led by quarterback Tom Brady -- who suffered a shoulder injury on his final pass of the game -- but fell short as place kicker Stephen Gostkowski connected on a 30-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining for a 27-24 Patriots victory.

Despite another loss for the Redskins (1-2) and 117 yards in penalties, there was more positive than negative for Campbell and the first-team offense, and that's a welcome change for them.

"We came out and had some fun," said Campbell, who led three first-half scoring drives and played into the third quarter. "We tried to execute a lot of different areas on the field. It was exciting to get out here and play for almost three full quarters, get our feet wet and get our feel for almost a full game. We're excited about some of the things that we did, but we can still do better."

Campbell completed only 1 of 7 passes in last week's 17-13 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at FedEx, renewing concerns about his ability to effectively lead Washington as the team prepares for the season opener Sept. 13 against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium.

Coach Jim Zorn and offensive coordinator Sherman Smith said last week that they did not share any frustration about Campbell's first two preseason outings (he played briefly against the Baltimore Ravens). They were pleased with Campbell's focus in practice this week and figured he would fare better against the Patriots, which he did.

In his longest outing of the preseason by far, Campbell completed 13 of 22 passes for 209 yards and had a short touchdown run. He started fast and finished strong in the first half as the Redskins rallied to pull even with the Patriots (2-1) at the break after trailing by 10 points, and played one series in the third quarter.

Among Campbell's completions was a 73-yard catch-and-run to tight end Chris Cooley in the second quarter. "I think it sparked us a bit offensively," Cooley said. "I think that's my longest play since high school. I was excited I could have such a big play. I definitely feels good when you know you're that wide open."

The offensive line again provided Campbell with plenty of time to advance through his progressions, on some plays allowing him to survey both sides of the field while holding off pass rushers.

Zorn was pleased with the Redskins' No. 1 quarterback and the offensive line, which has made strides since struggling badly in training camp.

"Very pleased," Zorn said. Campbell "was very much into the game. He was competing hard and doing the things that you want. We missed on a couple of long ones, but he came right back and was running the show."

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