Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell is making a strong early impression.
The first-round draft choice slipped a pass rush yesterday and threw a 20-yard slant past a smothering defender to hit the receiver inches inside the sideline. Moments later, he scampered down the left side on a broken play for a modest gain.
The rookie is quickly displaying his potential. There are moments when that whets the appetite but also mistakes that are clearly anticipated by defenders. Campbell begins training camp third on the depth chart behind Patrick Ramsey and Mark Brunell, but the reasoning behind taking a first-rounder despite Ramsey's youth is quickly apparent -- Campbell has game.
"The SEC prepared me well for the NFL," Campbell said, "but the main thing about the NFL is, it's about who's smarter. I'm just getting more comfortable. The main thing for a quarterback is, get comfortable with the plays so you can be yourself."
Campbell's long windup is likened to that of former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham, which leaves him vulnerable to pass rushers hitting his arm. But coach Joe Gibbs said he doesn't like to mess with passing mechanics.
"The one thing I've learned about quarterbacks is, when they get to this level, as far as throwing motions, what you see is what you get," he said. "You may be able to help him with the kinds of throws he makes. ... To be quite truthful, I like his throwing motion."
Campbell will get one series in a scrimmage against the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow at M&T Bank Stadium.
Safety Pierson Prioleau's chance to reunite with Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams after playing for him in Buffalo from 2001 to 2003 was instrumental in Washington signing Prioleau.
"It weighs a lot when you feel like you know a group of [coaches]," he said. "You feel comfortable with the defense they run and that you'll get a fair shake. I didn't come here for handouts or free gifts, and they never promised me anything. I just felt more comfortable with familiar faces."
Prioleau opened training camp with the starters after Sean Taylor's offseason workout boycott dropped him to second team. It's a temporary move with Prioleau expected to prove more valuable on special teams, but he's getting a long look from coaches.
"I'm just showing the guys they can count on me," Prioleau said. "I thought I could help with some veteran leadership on special teams and defense. I thought it would be a good fit with my old coaches."
Said Williams: "We were shocked that he was [available]. Our comfort level is, we know exactly the person [he is] behind the scenes. When you look at the film, you can evaluate him on the field, but Coach Gibbs is emphasizing more about the kind of person that guy is off the field and in the classroom. It was easy to get Coach to give him a call once he was available."
NFL officials met with players and coaches to discuss new rules. Challenged calls and horse-collar tackles were the hottest topics. Gibbs said he'll use the red flag instead of the button to challenge calls.
"Last year we weren't good penalty-wise," Gibbs said. "For us, it's not one-emphasis thing. It's going to be everything. ... Last year we weren't smart from a penalty standpoint."
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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