Washington Redskins introduce Donovan McNabb at news conference

By Rick Maese
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 7, 2010; D08

The last time Donovan McNabb held up such a jersey, his last name and the familiar No. 5 hastily stitched in foreign colors, he was 22 years old and just hours removed from the NFL draft. Then, just as now, the expectations found his shoulders with much more force than celebratory confetti flakes.

The colors are now burgundy and gold. The name, the number and the haughty expectations, though, are still the same.

"It feels like being drafted again," McNabb said Tuesday, less than 48 hours removed from the Easter trade that took his career from Philadelphia to Washington. "You've been selected by a new team. You're going through all the emotions of learning new plays, being with the guys, working out. So it feels like I'm about 22 again."

But now he's 33, with 11 years of highs and lows behind him -- and he hopes several more years of highs ahead. While some will deride his age, he said he comes to Washington with experiences that will again make the Redskins competitive in the NFC East. The six-time Pro Bowler might be in position to know, having won five division titles from 2001 to 2006.

"Every time we stepped out on that field, we felt confident that we could win, and I look forward to bringing that to Washington," McNabb said.

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan introduced his new starting quarterback at the news conference. Team owner Daniel Snyder and General Manager Bruce Allen watched from the back of the room and were not made available to reporters afterward.

McNabb wasn't the only quarterback in the building Tuesday. Colt McCoy, a draft prospect from Texas, was in town for a visit. Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford landed in Washington later in the afternoon and had dinner with coaches in the evening. The one quarterback who was missing from the mix was last year's starter, Jason Campbell, who, people close to Campbell indicated, has decided to stop attending the team's offseason conditioning program.

Even with McNabb on the roster, there's still uncertainty surrounding the Redskins' quarterback position. Despite acquiring McNabb, Shanahan would not rule out the possibility of using the No. 4 pick to select a quarterback in this month's draft. Even after the McNabb deal was complete, the team opted against canceling visits this week with McCoy, Bradford, and Florida's Tim Tebow. In addition, the Redskins are still scheduled to travel and hold private workouts for both Bradford and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen this month.

"We go according to our draft. We're going to take a look at that board. There's a lot of possibilities," Shanahan said. "You got free agency, you have the draft, you've got possible trades. Like I said all along, we're going to try to put the best football team together and there's a lot of intangibles that go into it."

McNabb said he spotted McCoy in the building Tuesday and was aware that Bradford and Clausen are apparently still on the team's radar. Since the Eagles drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007, McNabb had grown accustomed to looking over his shoulder in Philadelphia, but he wasn't worried about the Redskins visiting with quarterback prospects.

"That's really none of my concern," McNabb said. "My focus is to make sure I'm prepared and ready to go and to try to help this team."

Though McNabb barely arrived in town Monday, he didn't waste much time diving into his new job. "I started today," he said, noting that he'd stick around town for at least a couple of weeks and participate in the team's offseason conditioning program and the first minicamp, which runs April 16-18.

In the meantime, McNabb's agent, Fletcher Smith, should also be busy. McNabb's current contract expires at the end of the 2010 season, and both sides are expected to hammer out an extension soon. Smith said the extension is not an urgent matter and doesn't necessarily need to be completed before the draft, which begins on April 22.

"I don't focus on that, but I do expect to be here, and that's the way that I've been preparing myself," McNabb said. "I'm going to prepare myself to be here for years to come."

As for last season's starter, it's highly doubtful that Campbell will attend the team's minicamp. The team has granted permission to Campbell's agent, Joel Segal, to explore trade possibilities and seek a better situation for the five-year veteran.

"He's going to look at the situation from top to bottom and make decision on what he wants to do," said Shanahan, who met with Campbell on Monday. "We just gave him the ability to do that."

While a trade could likely happen as the draft draws closer, if Segal fails to locate Campbell a starting job, the Redskins would prefer to bring back Campbell as McNabb's backup rather than release him. If they released Campbell, the Redskins would not receive any draft compensation.

Campbell is currently a restricted free agent, and the Redskins have tendered him a one-year, $3.14 million offer, which Campbell has yet to sign.

"He's got the opportunity to come back here. . . . We're going to do the best thing for the Washington Redskins, and that would be to have him back," Shanahan said.

McNabb said he also reached out to Campbell. The two have shared a friendly relationship and both appear to be close to putting tumultuous situations in their respective rear-view mirrors.

Smith, McNabb's agent, called the move to Washington a "a fresh start. It's a chance for him to start over."

Said McNabb: "Sometimes change is better. Sometimes you're forced into change. I would have loved to [finish my career in Philadelphia], but it didn't happen."

"They're rebuilding, and they're going young," the quarterback said. "I never knew 33 years old was old, but I guess I'm too old."

While his age could be a topic for months to come, it's not a concern for Shanahan, nor McNabb.

Asked how much he has left, McNabb said, "A lot. A whole lot."

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