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Campbell catching on

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Campbell catching on

The word I've been getting out of Redskins Park is that Jason Campbell has been struggling somewhat while trying to pick up Jim Zorn's offense.

That's not what I saw today.

Campbell was very sharp in the morning session. On swing passes, he hit backs in perfect stride. While he didn't hit on every long pass, every one of them was a well-placed rainbow, aimed at the outside shoulder of the receiver.

The most impressive pass of the day, however, was his last. He fired downfield to Antwaan Randle El. The pass eluded the outstretched hands of a couple of defenders and found Randle El in the crowd.

The fourth year QB unbuttoned his chin strap, pushed up his helmet, and made a slight nod towards Randle El as the horn sounded to end practice.

Now, I did note that the offense wasn't running particularly complex plays. It's possible the Jim Zorn designed the practice to give Campbell a confidence boost. There weren't many of the inside slant patterns that require absolute precision to hit the receiver in stride. It was Football Passing 101 for the most part.

Still, Campbell had to execute and he did.

The pressure on Campbell to perform ticked up a notch last Sunday. When the Redskins made the trade for 33-year-old defensive end Jason Taylor, giving up a second-round pick and over $8 million in salary cap money in the process, the signal was unmistakable—the organization isn't going to take a mulligan this year. They aren't writing off 2008 due to the presence of Zorn and the fact that Campbell has to learn his third new offense in four NFL seasons. The new coach is expected to get his quarterback up to speed by September 4. Period.

Campbell has two years left on his rookie contact. There has been little talk about an extension since the Redskins really don't know what they have in Campbell at this point. They'd like to write him out a nice, fat bonus check along the lines of the ones that Tony Romo and Marc Bulger received in the past year. But they don't yet know if he's worth it.

And Campbell would like to cash that check but he knows that he has to earn it.

If he has more practices like today's, and if he can translate those practices into solid performances in games, he'll get that chance.

Edit: After I wrote this, I wandered by the official Redskins blog and Matt Terl had posted a transcript of an interview he had with Peter King of Sports Illustrated, who was out at Redskins Park today. Among other topics, the subject of Campbell's practice today came up:

Terl: Okay. Finally: tell us something you saw at camp today that's not going to make it into your Postcard From Camp, but that Redskins fans would want to know.

King: I'll tell you something that IS going to make it into my postcard: I thought Jason Campbell had one of the best camp practices I've ever seen a quarterback have.

Really!

I mean, if he had four balls hit the ground in two hours, I'll be surprised. I mean, the touch on this passes, his accuracy downfield, I was highly, highly impressed.

Now, I've seen him a few times over the years, and I've thought he's okay, but I never saw him like I saw him today.

Not that I'm so insecure as to need affirmation of my analysis from a pretty well-respected writer, but it doesn't hurt.

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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on NFL.com, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

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Need to Know: Five pivotal games on the Redskins' schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 20, six days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five pivotal games on the Redskins’ schedule

All NFL games are important but some seem to be a little more important than others. At first glance at the Redskins’ schedule, these seem to be the five most pivotal games. 

Week 1 @Cardinals—Wait, Week 1 is pivotal? It is if you’re Jay Gruden and you are 0-4 in season openers. Starting off in an 0-1 hole again after losing a winnable game would not get things off to a positive start. 

Week 7 Cowboys—The only Redskins-Cowboys game that Kirk Cousins started in the last three years that Washington won was the 2015 season finale in Dallas, a game that was meaningless to both teams. Alex Smith needs to take advantage of his shot at the Cowboys. Beating Dallas is important for being competitive in the division and for job security in general. This is their shot at them at home.

Week 9 Falcons—Atlanta has been among the league’s big boys the last couple of years. The Redskins get them at home, on grass, when the weather could be turning a little bit chilly. It’s a good opportunity to upset a dome team. The game also ends the first part of the season and the Redskins face a second half of the schedule that has just three home games. 

Week 14 Giants—This is one of the aforementioned scarce home games in the latter part of the season. It’s preceded by road games in Dallas (9-7 last year) and Philadelphia (Super Bowl champs) and followed by roadies in Jacksonville (lost AFC title game) and Tennessee (won a playoff game). Nobody is quite sure to what extent the Giants will rebound from their dismal 2017 season but this game has the feel of a possible oasis surrounded by hostile deserts. 

Week 16 @Titans—If the Redskins are in playoff contention, this game will determine a lot even though its non-conference. As noted, the Titans are looking to improve on their playoff season last year and they will not be a pushover by any stretch. But if the Redskins want to be able to say that they are a better team than they have been the last couple of years, this is the kind of game they should win. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 32
—Training camp starts (7/26) 97
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 142

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