Reporters crowded around the locker of Jason Campbell, and Rock Cartwright looked up from his nearby locker with surprise.
"Is Jason starting this week?" he asked, to no one in particular.
No, Campbell is not expected to start against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. But the second-year quarterback continued to take reps with the first-team offense in practice. That alone can trigger media attention in Washington, D.C., a town that loves to speculate on the Redskins' quarterback situation.
Head coach Joe Gibbs reiterated on Monday that there was no change at the quarterback position. Mark Brunell, despite being slowed by a strained rib muscle, is expected to draw the start against the Cowboys. He is expected to return to practice on Wednesday.
Moreover, Todd Collins is expected to serve as Brunell's backup against Dallas while Campbell will be the third quarterback. That's the same setup as the Redskins' first seven games.
"I think we have a good plan with what we laid out [at quarterback]," Gibbs said. "Nothing has changed with our quarterback situation. We will see how Mark feels on Wednesday."
As Brunell recuperated from his injury, Campbell drew the bulk of reps in practice last week. On Monday, he split reps with Collins.
Gibbs praised Campbell's work ethic, as well as his patience.
"I definitely think that anytime Jason gets to work, it is good for him," Gibbs said. "I talk to him a lot about patience and how at each one of these practices it is hard to be excited about things knowing there is a chance you will not play. I could tell this week that it was good for him to get work. It was a good experience. He's worked extremely hard."
During his Monday media session, Campbell was low key as he assessed his performance in practice.
"I'm getting more comfortable with the players," he said. "I think they're getting more comfortable with me. It's all about trying to build that chemistry.
"Right now, I have to be patient and stay confident. Then when my number is called, I just have to go in and execute the plays that are called."
Perhaps more than anything else, the practice work allowed Campbell to feel like more a part of the team. He has served as the Redskins' third quarterback for 25 regular- and postseason games now.
"It made me feel like I wasn't an outsider looking in," he said. "The things I did last week carried over to what I did this week, so I feel a whole lot more comfortable this week. I keep expecting to get better each time I go in there.
Campbell, the second of two Redskins' first-round draft picks in 2005, is well aware that this Sunday's opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, have turned to a young quarterback in third-year player Tony Romo.
Romo, an undrafted rookie who signed with Dallas in 2003, guided the Cowboys to a 35-14 victory over the Carolina Panthers on Sunday night in his first NFL start. Romo has served as the Cowboys' third quarterback and backup for much of the last three years.
Campbell understands that his time will come.
"I've seen guys thrown in there and they weren't ready, and I've seen guys who start right away and have success," he said. "There are both positive and negatives to it."
Gibbs is appreciative of Campbell's patience. He is a coach who watches and evaluates players closely, from their work habits in meeting rooms to on-field performance in games.
"In the past here, some of the quarterbacks who are great stories here came out of the same scenario that Jason is in," Gibbs said. "They were running the other team's plays during practice and they can get quite a bit from that. They sit in the meetings and they learn from other quarterback's mistakes.
"They are all learning experiences for Jason. Hopefully, he'll be fine and we'll just have to see when he plays. Hopefully, it's been time well spent."