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Campbell Eyes Training Camp For Return

The NFL can be full of twists and turns, especially for young players still establishing themselves in the league.

Redskins linebacker Khary Campbell, a third-year player, was on his way to a solid 2004 season when he suffered a torn ACL to his left knee in the Week 9 game against Cincinnati.

He had surgery on the knee shortly thereafter and was sidelined for the remainder of the season.

Since the surgery, Campbell has worked through extensive therapy, to the point that he's able to participate in some of the off-season workouts at Redskins Park.

It's doubtful that he'll take part in OTAs (league-sanctioned practice sessions) that begin later this month.

Campbell aims to be at full health by training camp and ready to play in the first preseason game on Aug. 13 at Carolina.

"We'll be cautious with [the knee]," he said. "But it'll be hard to miss out on reps. As far as when I'll be ready to go live and play in a game, I'm hoping that will be training camp."

After signing with the Redskins in April 2004, Campbell was off to a strong start last season, performing well on special teams. At the time of his injury, he led the team with 20 special teams tackles.

Campbell sustained the knee injury on the opening kickoff of the Week 9 game against the Bengals.

"When the injury happened, I was frustrated for myself, but then I felt bad that I couldn't be in the fight with my teammates and trying to win games," he said. "If the team was in a position at linebacker or special teams where someone like me could come in and make a different, then I want to be able to do that."

Of his rehabilitation, Campbell said: "It's going well. I had the surgery in December and I've been at Redskins Park almost every day working with the trainers. The training staff has been very hands-on with me and everything is progressing like it's supposed to."

Excelling at special teams has gotten Campbell a foot in the NFL door, but he also has experience playing the weak-side and middle linebacker positions.

At Bowling Green, he led the Falcons in tackles in both of his junior and senior seasons.

In 2002, his rookie year in the NFL, Campbell first signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent. He joined the New York Jets from the Cowboys' practice squad mid-season and started seven games for the Jets and three games in 2003 before being released.

When Campbell is back at full health, he hopes to pick up where he left off last season. Most likely he will assume a backup and special teams role.

He could see playing time at weak-side linebacker, depending on when LaVar Arrington will be ready to return from his knee injury.

Campbell could also be in the mix at middle linebacker. He played some at the position last preseason, until Antonio Pierce stepped up into the starting job. Pierce has since departed to the New York Giants.

Said Campbell: "When you're an undrafted free agent, you have to do whatever you're asked. You have to put yourself in a position where coaches feel they can trust you.

"They need to see I'm healthy first and that I can be a reliable player for them, both mentally and physically. If that puts me in the mix, then that's great."

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