Campbell just bruised

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An MRI of Jason Campbell’s left knee confirmed he suffered a bad bruise on the shot he took from Pittsburgh defensive end Brett Keisel in the first quarter of Saturday night’s 12-10 preseason loss to the Steelers. So Washington’s No. 1 quarterback hasn’t been ruled out of Saturday’s third preseason game against Baltimore, let alone the Aug. 30 finale at Jacksonville.

“We came out of this as good as we could have,” said Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who declined to say which veteran backup, Todd Collins or former starter Mark Brunell, would play if Campbell can’t.

Neither Collins, who played first against the Steelers and is having a fine preseason, nor Brunell, who played first in the Aug. 11 opener at Tennessee and is struggling, knew who would get the first shot against the Ravens.

Campbell’s seven starts to finish 2006 should make it unnecessary to risk playing him for the rest of preseason, and Gibbs did concede, “Obviously, preseason is one thing and regular season is something else.”

Strong side linebacker Marcus Washington, wearing a brace and sling to protect his dislocated right elbow, isn’t as fortunate as Campbell. Washington won’t face the Ravens and expects to miss “a couple weeks” with the regular-season opener with Miami just 20 days away.

It’s unclear whether Lemar Marshall, a starter on the weak side or in the middle the past three seasons, or strong side backup Khary Campbell will fill in for Washington because assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams was unavailable for comment.

“My gut tells me to be ready for anything,” said Campbell, who has started one game in his five NFL seasons.

Said Marshall: “Since the OTAs, I’ve been playing [the strong side], so I feel pretty comfortable. I’m sure Khary and I will split the reps and move forward. Hopefully, the guy who backs up can keep the ball rolling. The good thing is it happened in the preseason where Marcus has time to get right for the regular season.”

Washington said he might have to keep wearing the brace once he does return.

“The doctors told me they’ve had some guys who were able to come back in a week depending on how much swelling they have,” Washington said. “When I first did it, I kinda caught up in between a couple of helmets, and the hand kinda went numb on me. When I came out from under the pile and looked at it, it was real disfigured.”

Washington, who missed just one game in his first six NFL seasons, played most of 2006 with a hip that required postseason surgery before going on injured reserve the final two weeks with an ailing knee. He sat out much of the spring while his hip was recovering, and now he has the elbow problem.

“I’m trying to make my push for the Ed Block Courage Award,” Washington joked before saying he has yet to worry about not being ready for the Dolphins. “I’m still pretty sore, [but] I feel better than I did last night. I got a little more strength in my hand. I’m showering and putting my socks on by myself. If we keep moving like that, we’ll be all right.”

Jason Campbell was feeling more than all right yesterday, at least psychologically.

“I did get kinda lucky,” Campbell said. “Nine times out of 10 when you see that, it’s something torn or not good. It’s sore, stiff, but overall I got some good news. It wasn’t as much swelling as I expected. All the ligaments are in place. I’m not hesitant [to play this week]. We’ll see where we’re at close to the weekend.”

That won’t be the case for Mike Espy. The receiver, who got into one game as a rookie free agent in 2006 after spending most of the year on the practice squad, had season-ending surgery yesterday to repair a ruptured patella tendon.

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