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In Collins' Long Wait, 'Preparation' Was Key

Todd Collins is the Redskins' new starting quarterback, as he takes the reins from injured Jason Campbell for the stretch run. He will make his first start in nearly 10 years on Dec. 16 against the New York Giants. Collins spoke with and assembled media:

Q: Can you talk about your opportunity to start and the long wait that came along with it?

A: "It is exciting. I never knew if it was going to come again. I just hung around long enough and worked hard. Fortunately, I got an opportunity. It's just too bad it has to come at the expense of an injury to Jason Campbell. In his absence, we are going to try to move this offense. Last week the guys responded well and we are going to try to do it again this week."

Q: How does it feel to go from being a backup to NFC Offensive Player of the Week?

A: "It is crazy. Unexpected. You just never know. That is why you have to be consistent in your preparation before every game. You just never know when an opportunity is going to come. Fortunately, when my number was called [last Thursday against the Chicago Bears], I was able to go out there and the team played great. The guys responded well to me and we were able to move the football and get a win."

Q: Were there times in the last few years when it was hard to stay prepared?

A: "Yeah, it's definitely a challenge. What motivates you is just not knowing what could happen. No one knows when your opportunity is going to come, so that's what makes you stay consistent in the preparation."

Q: Has there ever been another player in the NFL that you looked at as a comparable situation as yours?

A: "Going back to 1998, I spent one year in Kansas City with Rich Gannon. He was the backup at the time, and had been a backup for a long time. Really, that was the first time I saw a backup player prepare like he was going to be the starter. I took a lot out of that. That one year with him, his preparation, his routine, I realized that is how a professional gets ready to play each and every week. Eventually he did get an opportunity. He was in his 12th year when I was with him in Kansas City and then he went on and had some great years in Oakland."

Q: All of a sudden you're getting a lot of media attention. How are you handling it?

A: "It's fine. I enjoy playing, but I know [media attention] is part of the deal. It has been a while since I have had this much attention, but it's not bad."

Q: What kept you going the last 10 years?

A: "Number one, it is your job. Even if you're not playing, it is your job to be prepared. This is professional football. You don't want to let yourself down, but the other thing that was important to me--as it is with all other backup players--you don't want to let your team down. It is one thing to let yourself down, but it is also another thing to let your teammates down. When you step in the huddle, those guys are depending on you."

Q: Was there ever a moment where you thought being a backup in the NFL wasn't worth it anymore?

A: "There were some frustrating moments. Everybody goes through them. But there was never a point where I said it wasn't worth it anymore, otherwise I wouldn't be here."

Q: What were your thoughts last offseason when the Redskins had five quarterbacks on the roster?

A: "I came here as a free agent in 2006 and the way things turned out I was a backup. Then, they made the decision to go with Jason Campbell at quarterback. They drafted some guys and we had a lot of quarterbacks. At that time I wanted to make it clear to him Coach [Joe] Gibbs that I wanted to stay here with the Redskins. I went in to talk to him to make sure the feeling was mutual. I knew it was early on. I know how things work in the NFL and I just wanted to let him know that if I wasn't in the plans, that I would appreciate it if he would let me know. Primarily, I just wanted to let him know that I wanted to be here and contribute."

Q: How has your long-time relationship with Al Saunders helped with your familiarity with the offense?

A: "There is no question it helped. I am familiar with it. I have had reps in it. I understand what he is trying to accomplish. It is kind of a comfort zone to be able to not do a lot of thinking on the field and just concentrate on executing."

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