- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2005

Most of their nine remaining rookies will be nervous about their futures when the Washington Redskins kick off tonight’s preseason finale at Baltimore. Not Jason Campbell.

The 25th choice overall in the 2005 draft knows he’s going to make the team. But Campbell also knows that as the third-string quarterback, the game with the Ravens will be his last chance to play until next summer if the Redskins have a good season.

“It’s kind of weird when you’re used to playing, but now it’s really sinking in that I’m in a different role,” said Campbell, who started every game for Auburn the past two years and played in every game the season before that. “The key for me is to keep working hard and be patient. Any time you get an opportunity to go on the field, you want to perform well. But even if I threw four touchdown passes [tonight], I don’t think it would change anything.”

Indeed, Patrick Ramsey was Washington’s top passer the last three years and has improved with each preseason game, while veteran Mark Brunell, who began 2004 as the starter, has been the Redskins’ top quarterback this summer. After solid showings in the scrimmage at Baltimore and the preseason opener at Carolina, Campbell didn’t play Aug. 19 against Cincinnati and was under center for just two full series last week against Pittsburgh, throwing just two passes.

Quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave hopes Campbell gets at least a third of the snaps tonight, with the starters likely to be yanked earlier than in the first three games.

“Jason needs as much experience as he can get,” said Musgrave, who can relate to Campbell’s approaching inactivity, having gone from four-year starter at Oregon to career-long clipboard holder during his six NFL seasons. “We’ve been giving him more time in practice to compensate for [his lack of action the last two games]. It’s going to be a transition for Jason. He’s got to address it like a professional and always be ready.”

While Campbell hopes to give a hint of big things to come, the Redskins’ starters merely want to leave Baltimore healthy. Paying back the Ravens for surprising them with blitzes in an Aug. 6 scrimmage isn’t high on the agenda for the offense, which is coming off an impressive performance in a 17-10 victory over the Steelers. The Redskins racked up 367 yards, including 166 on the ground, and 20 first downs while allowing no sacks against the top-ranked defense of 2004.

“It’s been a long time since we played that well,” left tackle Chris Samuels said of the offensive line. “Hopefully, we can carry that over to this week. We’ve just got to build from that. We definitely have to score more points. We’ll game-plan a little better for the Ravens this time, but I wouldn’t call it payback.”

No starting spots remain undecided other than strong safety, where Ryan Clark returns after missing two games but Matt Bowen is out with a bruised chest. Pierson Prioleau is also in the mix there. Weak side linebacker LaVar Arrington and right defensive tackle Brandon Noble are working toward reclaiming the jobs they lost after missing most of the offseason following knee surgeries.

Tonight’s biggest battle will occur at punter, where Andy Groom, who has had an excellent summer but has yet to play in a regular-season game, will try to persuade the coaches to go with him over newly signed 14-year veteran Chris Mohr.

Veteran centers Cory Raymer and Lennie Friedman could be dueling for one reserve job, as could tight ends Brian Kozlowski and Robert Johnson, running backs Rock Cartwright and Nehemiah Broughton, defensive ends Ron Warner and Nic Clemons, linebackers Khary Campbell and Brandon Barnes and defensive backs Omar Stoutmire, Garnell Wilds and Rufus Brown.

Note —The Redskins held their 44th annual Welcome Home Luncheon yesterday at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner. The only player absent was tight end Robert Royal, who was still trying to reach his family in hurricane-devastated Louisiana. Redskins owner Dan Snyder has made his plane available to Royal if necessary.

Staff writer Ryan O’Halloran contributed to this article.

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