- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Each week, with few exceptions, the faces change around Jason Campbell. Players get hurt or demoted. Their replacements suffer injuries. Name tags should be required during Wednesday morning offensive meetings.

“It’s a revolving door in our huddle right now,” injured tight end Chris Cooley said on a local radio show Monday.

And with each new injury, Campbell’s role grows.

At the start of the season, he was a quarterback who could hand off to Clinton Portis, throw to Cooley and know his blind side was being protected by Chris Samuels.

Now in the middle of the season, he is a quarterback who is still working with Santana Moss but otherwise has career backups, rookie free agents and developing players surrounding him.

The adversity has produced some of the toughest hits Campbell has taken but also some of the gutsiest efforts. While management (except for executive vice president of football operations Vinny Cerrato’s assessment of Campbell’s play as “inconsistent” through seven games) and ownership (No. 17 didn’t come up during Dan Snyder’s 45-second availability Tuesday at FedEx Field) have stayed almost entirely mute about Campbell’s play, his teammates and coaches have sprung to his defense.

“He gets up, and man, he shakes it off. He’s a warrior,” receiver Devin Thomas said.

“Grateful to have him,” center Casey Rabach said.

“Nobody gets more criticized than him, but he’s overcome all that to push and will this team,” offensive assistant Chris Meidt said.

Even though the Redskins failed to score a touchdown and lost to Dallas 7-6, Sunday’s game showed Campbell at his best.

Against a furious Dallas pass rush made more effective by protection errors, Campbell was sacked only once. He also did something that should give the offense some hope for the final six games: He found the proper medium of when to scramble and then throw or when to scramble and then run.

That wasn’t the case when he was benched against Kansas City on Oct. 18 or in the first half of the Denver game two weeks ago.

Against the Broncos, Levi Jones was making his left tackle debut for the Redskins, a banged-up Stephon Heyer shifted to right tackle and Chad Rinehart was getting a second shot at right guard. Campbell knew pass protection problems were imminent… and he played like it, making at least five bad passes.

“He wasn’t accurate and was rushing himself, anticipating pressure that wasn’t there,” Meidt said. “At halftime, we talked about it, and he settled down.”

Campbell was 9-for-9 for 92 yards in the second half against Denver. The strong play continued in Dallas. He forced no more than two throws and put his receivers in position to make yards after the catch.

Coach Jim Zorn reminded Campbell before the game that getting crunched is part of the job and that he should expect to be hit at least seven times a game.

“He accepted the physical part of the game, and he was much more confident in the pocket. He took the hits and didn’t try to shy away from those,” Zorn said. “Consequently, we moved the ball and got some first downs.”

Three plays exhibited Campbell’s moxie:

c First quarter, third-and-13 from the Washington 21: Dallas rushed just three, but DeMarcus Ware beat Jones. Campbell calmly slid to his right and threw 26 yards to Thomas.

“Just a tremendous play,” Meidt said. “DeMarcus was right on his back, and Jason threw a strike.”

c Second quarter, third-and-8 from the Dallas 48: The Cowboys rushed six, but Campbell hit Moss for 17 yards on a crossing route.

“Their defensive end came unblocked because we had a little protection confusion, but Jason held his ground and threw another strike,” Meidt said.

c Third quarter, third-and-5 from the Washington 45: Dallas’ Anthony Spencer beat Heyer, but Campbell quickly turned his head from the right side to the left and hit Malcolm Kelly, who gained 36 yards.

“[The first option] was Santana on a slant route, but the corner jumped inside,” Meidt said. “Jason started working back looking for [tight end Fred Davis]. He had pressure, so he had to evade and move left. Malcolm was the third read. He came back to him and drilled a perfect throw.”

Campbell likely is in the last two months of his Redskins career, but the plays he put on tape Sunday should garner interest from other teams.

“This is the job we’ve chosen to do and, if you’re a true winner, no matter what your record is, you’ll continue to fight,” he said. “I don’t think anybody on this team has quit or given up.”


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