CARLISLE, PA., JULY 23 -- This is an extremely tough training camp for A.J. Johnson, who was expected to be the Washington Redskins' starting cornerback opposite Darrell Green until undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery six weeks ago.

That surgery will sideline Johnson the entire season, and while he hopes "it'll add a few years at the end," it has temporarily halted a career that appeared to be taking off at the end of last season.

So while his teammates practice, he wears a huge knee brace and is just beginning the toughest part of what will be a long and painful rehabilitation process.

"It just turned out to be the best thing," he said. "It's tough, but there was no way around it. I'm not going to worry. If I'm meant to start, it'll just happen next year."

His surgery has made an already confusing secondary competition a little more so. Green starts at one corner, Martin Mayhew, Brian Davis and others are competing at the other, and Todd Bowles and Alvin Walton are trying to hold off Brad Edwards, rookie Rico Labbe and others at the two safety spots.Collins All Suited Up

Andre Collins said his summerlong contract negotiations came down to one basic fact: He wasn't going to miss a minute of practice time.

So this morning, about eight hours after signing what's believed to be a three-year, $1 million contract, the Redskins' top draft pick had slipped into jersey No. 55 and began his pro career.

"It feels good, real good," he said. "I've looked forward to this for a long time. Penn State gave me a good football education, but I still have a lot to learn."

The first thing is a new position. He's 6 feet 2, 230 pounds and the Redskins have decided to switch him from his college position, middle linebacker, to the outside.

To make room for Collins, the Redskins released free agent cornerback Derrick Richey.No Word for Dexter

Attorney Bob Woolf was unable to speak to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue today about the Dexter Manley situation. Woolf, who was traveling on the West Coast, hopes to have the conversation Tuesday.

At issue is why Manley is still under contract to the Redskins and, therefore, unable to sign with a Canadian Football League team. The Redskins and NFL say that since Manley was slapped with his lifetime ban with six games left last season, he has six games left on his contract.

Since the CFL honors NFL contracts, that means Manley can't play football until at least mid-November. Woolf has hinted he might sue the NFL on Manley's behalf if he can't get him out of his contract.