By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 25, 2010; D01
ORLANDO -- As Mike Shanahan embarks on an active and busy hunt for the Washington Redskins' quarterback of the future, he's not yet ready to make any decisions about the 2010 starter.
Shanahan on Tuesday said that he doesn't expect to name a starting quarterback before training camp, which means for the first time in his career, Jason Campbell will enter camp and find himself locked in a battle for the starting position. Shanahan said he'll be closely monitoring Campbell during the team's offseason conditioning program and the upcoming minicamps to determine his exact role next season.
"I don't think you know until you actually work with somebody for sure exactly how they're going to handle your system," Shanahan said Wednesday morning, during the NFL owners' annual meeting. "I think Jason's handled a lot of different systems in college and pro. He's a big guy, an excellent athlete and he's a worker. So now we get a chance to let it unfold and see how it goes."
Campbell has been the Redskins' starter since midway through the 2006 season. He began both his rookie year in 2005 and the '06 season as the Redskins' third quarterback.
Across the league, speculation has centered on the Redskins chasing a new quarterback in next month's draft, and Shanahan said nothing to dissuade such conjecture Wednesday.
If the Redskins aren't planning on drafting a quarterback next month, they'll be spending a lot of time and energy tricking the competition. Shanahan said he will personally scout the draft's top quarterback prospects, checking out four or five quarterbacks in-person over the course of the next month.
The team is scheduled to see Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, rated by most analysts as the draft's top quarterback, at his pro day in Norman, Okla., next week. They'll also have a private workout with Bradford a week before the draft. Other top quarterbacks in the draft include Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen, Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour and Texas's Colt McCoy.
Shanahan already has watched Tim Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Florida. Along with Washington General Manager Bruce Allen and Scott Campbell, the team's director of player personnel, Shanahan made the short drive from Orlando to Gainesville, Fla., last Saturday to see Tebow in a private workout.
Speaking publicly about Tebow for the first time since the workout, Shanahan offered a glowing review Wednesday, saying, "I like everything about him."
"Here's a guy to me that brings everything to the table. He'll interview with 30 people, work out for everybody, when you're with him, he's just an off-the-chart guy," Shanahan said. "Those guys don't come around all the time. Especially with the success that he's had.
"I just think he's something that's very special," he added.
Tebow has been criticized for his mechanics and his throwing accuracy. His footwork is still suspect, but Shanahan says he saw noticeable improvement on Saturday from what Tebow showed scouts and coaches at the Senior Bowl in January.
"I think what everybody was looking at from the Senior Bowl was where he dropped the ball below his waist," Shanahan said. "I think he's doing a great job keeping the ball up high, and I think everybody saw that at his workout."
The Redskins will invite prospects from a variety of different positions to visit Redskins Park and will no doubt send scouts to check out several others up-close. But when it comes to the quarterback position, Shanahan prefers to take matters into his own hands.
"I think with a quarterback, you like to actually see the ball, the spin of the ball, watch the way the guy handles himself," he said. "You see a lot on film, you have the interviews with him, you've met with the guy. But actually to see the delivery in-person is something that I enjoy doing."
If the team doesn't draft a quarterback, Shanahan apparently will still wait before naming a starter. The team has four quarterbacks under contract: Campbell, Rex Grossman, Colt Brennan and Richard Bartel. Campbell has started the team's past 32 games and 52 of their past 56. No quarterback has started more games for the Redskins since Mark Rypien led the huddle from 1989 to '93.
Shanahan said the team will enter training camp with a depth chart at each position, but "every player knows it can change very quickly based on how they practice."
"I think anybody that names any position before training camp -- especially if you haven't worked with them -- as we share with our football team, it can change every day," he said.
Shanahan said he's not worried about Campbell's confidence and that assurances are few and far between in the NFL.
"I don't think a quarterback gets assurance unless you go in year and year out on the football field. This is a game of competition," he said. "Unless you go out there and prove yourself on a week in, week out basis, you're never really assured. You'd better not be.
"Just like coaches. This league is game by game, season by season -- you've got to go out there and perform. And I think that's what Jason does. He's going to do everything he possibly can to get himself ready for the season."