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For Campbell, A Coincidence In Tampa Bay




Jason Campbell wears No. 17 in tribute to Redskins great Doug Williams.

Maybe someday Redskins fans will be able to speak of Campbell's career in the same glowing terms reserved for Williams.

That career will be launched next Sunday in Raymond James Stadium when the Redskins take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a battle of struggling NFC teams that met in the NFL playoffs last January.

The Week 11 start to Jason Campbell's NFL career seems to make sense for a lot of reasons, most notably that the Redskins really need a spark at the quarterback position.

It's not that the classy Mark Brunell is the sole reason for the Redskins' problems, or even the major reason. There are plenty of problems with the football team that have nothing to do with Mark Brunell.

The larger issue is that the Redskins need to find out if Campbell can compete at the NFL level. The announcement by head coach Joe Gibbs gives the young man out of Auburn a fair shot at the final seven games of 2006.

What a coincidence that the first start for Campbell will be in Tampa Bay, where Williams, the man he so admires, works now in the Bucs' organization. Williams is in his third season as a personnel executive.

Williams also made his first NFL start in Tampa Bay as the Bucs quarterback in 1978. He joined the Redskins in 1986 and led the franchise to a championship in Super Bowl XXII in 1987.

In Campbell's first NFL season, the Redskins were content to have 2005 first-round draft pick Campbell sit back and soak it all in.

In fact, the Auburn quarterback selected 25th overall in the draft, didn't get on the field during the regular season. Still, Gibbs was pleased with his development.

"My impression of Jason is that he's very accurate," Gibbs said. "He has a sense of what the pocket is and he's going to be hard to sack because he's so big."

As college fans are well aware, Campbell led Auburn to an undefeated 13-0 season in 2004. He was named MVP of the SEC Championship game and the Sugar Bowl.

Now Campbell must prepare for a Bucs' defense that has traditionally been a nasty one. It features a trio of Pro Bowlers in linebacker Derrick Brooks, cornerback Ronde Barber and defensive end Simeon Rice.

"Tampa Bay is a good team," Campbell said on Monday. "They are a whole lot better than their record. In the NFL, it's a game of inches and small things separate the great teams. They are a great team and I think it's going to be a challenge on the road, but my teammates around me work hard and I know I'll have their support."

Certainly Campbell will be thinking about Williams in the days leading up the game at Raymond James Stadium. Campbell honored Williams by wearing his No. 17. On Sunday, he'll be trying to beat the team for which Williams now works.

It's one No. 17 starting his NFL career with the No. 17 quarterback he so admired as a youngster no doubt looking on.

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