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During his first bouts with adversity as the Redskins’ starter, Campbell could always relate to his days at Auburn, where he was booed off the field and was constantly learning new systems and establishing partnerships with new offensive coordinators.

But Auburn never tried to trade him to Kentucky or Mississippi State for two scholarships to be named later. The Redskins’ infatuation with Cutler and Sanchez was new territory.

When the rumors heated up, Campbell kept going to Redskin Park for weight-room sessions, meetings and on-field work.

Instead of blaming Snyder and Cerrato for trying to run him out of town, Campbell looked at himself to overcome the understandable bitterness.

“I said, ‘OK, I have to be accountable. I have to play better down the stretch. I need to do certain things better,’ ” he said. “But all that being said, it felt bad because I’m a competitor and I felt I was being thrown out. I watch a lot of games and I feel like I’m a very good quarterback in this league and some of my best days are ahead of me. … By no means am I looking for any sympathy. I just want to play, have fun and see what happens.”

Campbell’s best days came during the Redskins’ 6-2 start last year. In the first half of the season, he threw eight touchdown passes and no interceptions; in the second half, he had five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Because of injuries to the offensive line, Campbell was under pressure to get rid of the ball quickly. Because of the redshirt-type seasons from rookies Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly and Fred Davis, half of Campbell’s completions were to Cooley and Santana Moss.

But Campbell became the scapegoat months after the season. Ultimately, the Cutler deal fell through when Denver coach Josh McDaniels preferred Kyle Orton. A trade for Sanchez didn’t materialize because the Redskins didn’t have a second-round pick to deal.

“I went into some last years of contracts - everybody did back when I played but I never did go through what Jason went through,” Simms said. “There were always rumors, but nothing like this. I feel for him, I really do.”

When Campbell started the preseason 4-for-13, he again became talk-radio fodder. But Simms, who didn’t disagree with the Redskins’ pursuit of Cutler and Sanchez, liked the fact Campbell had to face adversity.

“In the preseason, you want every player at one time to really struggle because that’s what gives them focus,” Simms said. “When I played, things worked out great on Sundays when I had a really tough week because I learned from everything. If I made a mistake in practice, it was, ‘I won’t do that in the game.’ I like the quarterback to get roughed up a bit in the preseason, but I think he needs something positive to happen from the start.”

The schedule - the opener against the Giants excepted - sets Campbell and the Redskins up for a fast start. Another good first half, and contract speculation is bound to resurface. If the Redskins struggle early or limp home, Campbell and Zorn will both be under fire.

Campbell is trying to treat this year like others but knows his future is unsettled.

“I try not to make it feel different,” he said. “I know it’s my contract year. I know everything I do will be scrutinized and how if I throw an incompletion even I have to throw an incompletion, I’m a bad quarterback. All that said, I’m not putting pressure on myself. I’m going to play relaxed and try to make plays.”