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Campbell: 'It's Not About Me'


First offensive play of the 2008 season, and Jason Campbell dropped back to pass.

Quickly, Stephon Heyer was overpowered by Justin Tuck, and the New York Giants' defensive end closed in on Campbell and pulled him down for a sack.

It's a year later, and Campbell still remembers that play.

Not fondly, either.

"It's hard not to, Coach [Jim] Zorn would not let it go for about two weeks," Campbell said with a smile.

That first play typified the Redskins' sluggish offensive performance in that 16-7 loss at the Meadowlands. It may have also defined the Redskins' season, which came apart late in the season due to struggles in pass protection

The Redskins get a do-over this Sunday.

For the second year in a row, the Redskins open the regular season at the Meadowlands with a key early season NFC East matchup against the New York Giants.

It's a new beginning for Campbell, too.

He faced an offseason of scrutiny after it was reported that Redskins team officials tried to acquire quarterback Jay Cutler in a trade and quarterback Mark Sanchez in the NFL Draft.

The pressure that Campbell faces was best epitomized by the Aug. 10 Sports Illustrated cover story previewing training camp.

There was Campbell on the cover with the headline "Pressure Points And Pivotal Players." Beneath the headline were the words, "Jason Campbell must step up or step aside for the Redskins."

Campbell knows the scrutiny won't end, and he refuses to yield to it.

It's Week 1, after all. The focus is on playing the New York Giants, not the past.

"I think a lot of things that went down in the offseason added a lot of tension to the organization and to myself," Campbell said. "But I can't go out there playing timid. I know everyone is watching trying to see what I'm going to do. It's not about me. It's still about all of the guys and all of us in this together.

"We're all going out there to win games. If I go out there and try to make it about me, then I'm not doing it for the right reasons. That would affect our team. I don't want to do anything that would affect our team."

Last year, Campbell's first in Zorn's offense, Campbell completed 315-of-506 passes for 3,245 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions. His completion percentage of 62.3 and his QB rating of 84.3 were both respectable.

The stat that jumps out is the number of times Campbell was sacked--38 in all.

Last offseason, the Redskins brought back Derrick Dockery to the offensive line, otherwise the unit remains unchanged from last year's Week 1 starters.

Campbell is confident that pass protection will improve in 2009.

"Last year, at the beginning of the season [the offensive line] started off well," Campbell said. "The latter part of the year, we lost two of our starters. Anything about the offensive line has a lot to do with communication and a lot to do with being physical up front.

"So I think we answered the bell this preseason and I feel like we have a unique group there together and they can work together. Getting Dockery back was big and Stephon's improvement over the offseason definitely helps us. So I feel like we definitely improved in that area."

With Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly showing progress after lost rookie seasons, Campbell should have more offensive weapons this year.

Success elevates him--and the Redskins' offense--to elite status.

That's his next step.

Questions answered, right?

"The questions still won't be answered," Campbell said. "I just take it one game at a time, one process at a time. I enjoy the moment and have fun. I do my best on the field."

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