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Former Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell started seven games last season and passed for 10 touchdowns.
AP photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Former Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell started seven games last season and passed for 10 touchdowns.

Ex-AU QB ready to make his voice heard
Now the starter, Campbell takes command for Redskins

By Joseph White
Associated Press Writer

STERLING, Va. — Former Auburn player Jason Campbell is the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins. Mercedes Lindsay is the reigning Miss District of Columbia.

Want to really get them going? Ask about a recent bowling date in which Lindsay beat both Campbell and Redskins cornerback Carlos Rogers, another former Auburn player.

"We were playing around," Campbell said.

"We were not playing around," Lindsay said.

"We've got to let her win, you know," Campbell said.

"Let me win!" said Lindsay, laughing. "I took a picture of the score. I beat both of you — don't try it."

Their conversation soon turned to wins and losses in miniature golf and video games, further evidence that Campbell might have found his competitive match when he started dating someone from the cutthroat world of beauty pageants.

"We're very competitive, with each other," Lindsay said.

It's no great revelation that Campbell hates to lose, but fans and teammates still have much to learn about the 25-year-old quarterback who on Friday will report to training camp for the first time as an NFL starter.

"In private I just talk, talk, talk, talk," Campbell said. "But in public, I'm reserved. In public, I'm an observer. In the locker room pregame, everybody else is hyped up. I'm just sitting around observing."

Coaches and teammates say "quiet pride" best describes the third-year player.

"He's not going to do things to attract attention to himself," assistant coach Al Saunders said. "The position attracts attention, and he just happens to be that guy. He's going to be very professional. He's not going to change his personality."

Though Campbell might not raise his voice, he has a lot to say. His candor was refreshing during the final seven games of last season, when he made his first NFL starts following the benching of Mark Brunell.

Still, he was so quiet receiver Brandon Lloyd felt compelled one day to ask whether he had done anything to offend Campbell.

"My situation was I hadn't proven myself on the field just yet, so I felt like I didn't have the right to say anything to anyone at the time until I'd proved myself and earned everybody's respect," Campbell said. "What I did, I played hard, the offseason came, and I worked my butt off to try to get myself into that position. I want to be a leader of the team before the season starts. ... So this year I will be more open."

More open, perhaps. But louder?

"You won't ever hear me fuss a player out," Campbell said. "I talk to men out here as a grown man. Like if we have a missed assignment, I'll go up to the receiver and tell him what I saw, and I want to know what he saw. That way we can compromise together, and we'll both know what each other is thinking. If you fuss a player out, what you're doing is you're making him mad at you. You're not building any kind of relationship."

This week, Campbell has been working with receivers Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El, who returned a few days early from vacation to catch some passes and work on the timing that was missing when Campbell took over last season.

In addition to playing the position, Campbell also embraces the opportunity to play a part in the legacy of black quarterbacks. He wears No. 17 — which Doug Williams wore as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Redskins in the 1980s — and said the "standard is still high" for black players who want to play the position in the NFL.

A running joke in Washington is that the Redskins' starting QB is second in importance only to the president, but Campbell is hard-wired to handle the pressure. He expects to get booed when he throws an interception, and that 2-5 record as a starter last year disturbs him. Yet, he has the perspective that life is good, and nothing should be taken for granted.

"For me, it's just a matter of enjoying it, taking everything in stride," Campbell said. "You can't get full of yourself because what is there to get full of yourself about? It's only football. You've still got a long ways to go, you've got a life after football. I just don't spend my life worrying about what people have to say."

Hearing that made Lindsay laugh. She then told the story of a recent autograph session in which Campbell's quiet pride was on display. He greeted fans by saying, "I'm Jason Campbell, nice to meet you."

"And we all just laugh," Lindsay said. "Because it's like, 'Hello! They know who you are.' "

Jason Campbell at a glance

  • Played at Auburn during 2001-04, making All-SoutheasternConference in 2004 when he led the Tigers to the league championship.

  • Drafted in first round of 2005 draft by the Washington Redskins.

  • Didnít play in a regular-season game until the 10th contest of his second year with the Redskins. Installed then as the starter and stayed first on the depth chart for the final seven games.

  • Completed 53.1 percent of his passes for 1,297 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. Washington went 2-5 with him as the starter.

    - FL.com

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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