- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 3, 2006

VIRGINIA BEACH — Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell fractured the index finger on his throwing hand during an organized team activity Wednesday and will miss the team’s final offseason mini-camp in two weeks.

Brunell injured his hand when it hit the helmet of a defensive player after delivering a pass. He said he will be ready for the start of training camp in late July.

“It’ll take three weeks and that will be it,” he said before signing autographs yesterday at the Redskins Beach Blitz fan festival.

Brunell, who had a small wrap on the finger, said the fracture is a “clean break,” won’t require surgery and is the first such injury of his football career.

“I’m not concerned at all, really,” he said. “It’s nothing too serious.”

During the final two weeks of organized team activities and three-day mini-camp, veteran newcomer Todd Collins and second-year player Jason Campbell will take most of the snaps.

Campbell said the Redskins coaches stress to the quarterbacks to watch their follow-through motion.

“When you’re in the throwing motion, you’re coming down and when you hit the helmet, it’s hard to describe that feeling,” he said. “You could bruise or break your thumb, so you’re always careful. [The index finger] has a lot to do with the rotation of the ball, helps you get a firm grip and helps your accuracy.”

Although Brunell started 15 games last year, he is 35 years old and will be the fourth-oldest starting quarterback in the NFL, behind only Minnesota’s Brad Johnson (37), Green Bay’s Brett Favre (36) and Kansas City’s Trent Green (35). Green turns 36 on July 9. Brunell turns 36 on Sept. 17.

Because of the offseason trade of Patrick Ramsey to the Jets and Brunell’s age, the backup position will take on even greater importance this season. Collins was signed as a free agent from Kansas City and Campbell, the Redskins’ first-round draft pick in 2005, is the team’s quarterback of the future.

“This is what I’m working for every day, to stay prepared,” Campbell said. “The main thing for me is getting the offense down so I don’t have to worry about everything when I’m on the field and I can just be myself.”

Most of Brunell’s injuries during his career have been to his lower body. A sprained knee ligament knocked him out of the Redskins’ Week 16 win against the New York Giants last year and he played through a hamstring injury in 2004 before being benched halfway through the season. In nine seasons with Jacksonville, Brunell had elbow, hamstring and knee injuries, but was very durable, starting at least 13 games seven times.

Taking over for Ramsey in the second quarter of last year’s opener against Chicago, Brunell helped the Redskins to a 10-6 record and their first playoff appearance since the 1999 season. Brunell threw for 3,050 yards with 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Brunell’s quarterback rating of 85.9 was his best in a full season since 1998.

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