Nearly all of his teammates had returned to the locker room following a recent training camp practice, but Jason Campbell continued to grind, spending 30 minutes throwing passes and wrapping up his work by running sprints up and down the field in solitude.
He walked off the field alone.
Playing NFL quarterback in general - and quarterback for the Washington Redskins in particular - can feel like a lonely position. But Campbell is hardly a solo act as he prepares for his third season opener Sunday against the New York Giants.
He has his teammates and position coach, who believe he’ll thrive by playing in the same offense for a second consecutive season. And most of all, he has the head coach in his corner.
The intriguing storyline for the Redskins this year is also the most important subplot: Coach Jim Zorn and Campbell are joined at the hip.
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“I definitely feel that, and it’s obvious for the most part because of everything that happened [this offseason],” Campbell said last week. “For us, we’re together. … Since I haven’t been offered a contract, it’s ‘this year and then we’ll see what happens.’ ”
If the Redskins do well, particularly on offense, Zorn and Campbell (whose contract expires after the season) will return in 2010 and erase the stench of a tumultuous offseason in which owner Dan Snyder twice tried to acquire a new quarterback.
Struggle and who knows what Snyder will do after surveying the wreckage? Jon Gruden and Colt McCoy, anyone?
The mighty efforts last spring by Snyder and front office chief Vinny Cerrato to acquire Jay Cutler and rookie Mark Sanchez failed, leaving Campbell 16 chances to prove to Snyder he’s worth a new contract. Zorn has the same sample size to prove he can kick-start an offense that has failed to crack the top 10 in scoring since 1999.
The Redskins think they can make it work, that they’re the team that started 6-2, not the team that limped home to an 8-8 finish. Veterans say enough of the constant start-overs - their belief in Zorn and Campbell is strong.
“I would hope that everybody stays because cohesiveness is huge in the NFL,” tight end Chris Cooley said. “Guys that are on the same page with everything are important. To make a change like that would make it tough on everyone. It doesn’t make it tough on just the coach and the quarterback. I would like to see us continue to build.”
QB, coach always linked
They had been in place as the New York Giants’ coach and quarterback for only one season, but when Bill Parcells and Phil Simms convened for training camp in 1984, they knew a repeat of the previous year’s 3-12-1 record wouldn’t be tolerated.
“We both said, ‘Hey, are we going to be here next year or not?’ ” Simms recalled.