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In Campbell, A New Look At Quarterback

James Thrash cut sharply to his left, looked back at his quarterback and fully expected to see the football coming his way with authority.




A problem arose, however. Rookie quarterback Jason Campbell, making his first NFL start, faced a predicament in which Tampa Bay safety Jermaine Phillips was coming up the middle on a blitz and linebacker Ryan Nece was emerging from the edge.

Rather than panic, Campbell used his head and his athletic skills to sidestep the on-rushing Phillips and got off his pass before Nece could get to him. With that, Campbell was able to rifle the ball to Thrash and the veteran wide receiver picked up 15 yards.

Although the Redskins would go on to lose 20-17 at Raymond James Stadium on Week 11, that Campbell to Thrash sequence in the first quarter was truly a play to file away.

It signaled hope for all Redskins fans that Jason Campbell, the team's second first-round pick (25th overall) in the 2005 NFL Draft, has just what it takes to compete at the NFL level.

That Campbell-to-Thrash connection in the first quarter at Tampa Bay was perhaps Campbell's finest moment in his first extensive NFL playing time.

On Campbell's first NFL performance, head coach Joe Gibbs said: "I thought he was solid. We had no false starts, and he handled everything in the huddle real well. The players said he seemed right at home. He didn't show any signs of being nervous.

"That is one game. Certainly there are things Jason would have liked to have done better. It was a tough place to go and start against one of the better defensive schemes you will see in football. He'll be facing great defenses down the stretch."

Overall, the 6-5, 223-pound former Auburn Tiger went 19-for-34 for 196 yards. He threw TD passes to tight ends Chris Cooley and Todd Yoder and finished with a QB rating of 92.3.

Throughout the NFL, young quarterbacks stood out on Week 11. Winners includes Vince Young of Tennessee, Tony Romo of Dallas, Philip Rivers of San Diego and J.P. Losman of Buffalo.

Meanwhile, at Tampa Bay, Campbell gave notice that the Redskins have a talented young quarterback of their own. He couldn't help produce a Week 11 win but he was able to launch his NFL career with--by all accounts--a positive outing.

As the Redskins' starter, Campbell replaces veteran Mark Brunell, who directed the Redskins into the playoffs last season. Gibbs made the switch at QB after the team opened this season at 3-6.

In assessing his performance, Campbell said: "I feel like I did some good things. But I also feel I wish I could have a couple throws back. They possibly were the keys to the game, and keeping us in it, and keeping us ahead of them.

"But you know, that's part of the learning process. You've got your team to keep your head up high, your team to keep working--and you let the guys around you understand that you'll do whatever it takes to get out of the hole and get on a winning streak."

Asked if he felt in command in the huddle, Campbell replied: "I felt good, I felt comfortable. The guys around me felt real comfortable and we were excited about playing well today. Overall, I feel like the whole team did a good job. They fought hard. The guys told me they were going to support me no matter what--and they did that [on Sunday]."

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