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Caldwell Looks to Catch On Quickly

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It's always surprising when an NFL team says goodbye to its leading receiver from the previous season.

It happened in 2004, when the Philadelphia Eagles traded James Thrash to the Redskins. Thrash had led the Eagles with 49 receptions in 2003, but he was let go because the Eagles acquired Terrell Owens.

It happened in 2005, when the Redskins traded Laveranues Coles to the New York Jets for Santana Moss. Coles led the Redskins with 82 catches the previous season.

It happened in 2006, when the Redskins traded for Brandon Lloyd, who led the San Francisco 49ers with 48 catches the previous season.

It has happened again this year, when New England released Reche Caldwell, who nabbed 61 catches in 2006 and was a go-to receiver in the Patriots' postseason run.

New England brought in Randy Moss, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker and Kelley Washington last offseason. That spelled the end for Caldwell.

Asked on Thursday about his release from the Patriots, Caldwell said simply: "That's the past."

He's a Redskin now after signing with the club as a free agent last Tuesday.

Caldwell adds depth to a wide receiver corps that already includes Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, Brandon Lloyd and Thrash.

Caldwell participated in his first Redskins practice on Thursday as the team began preparation for the Week 2 game against Philadelphia.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "I have a lot to learn. It's a brand new offense for me. I got here a little late, but I'll try to learn the plays, learn the routes, and do whatever it takes to help the team win."

He added: "I've seen a lot of the playbook--it's a lot to learn. I have a short period of time to learn it. I'm studying every day and every night."

Caldwell had several teams in pursuit of his services, but he chose to sign with the Redskins because he viewed it as a "pretty good fit."

How soon could Caldwell contribute on game day?

Caldwell first: "I don't know. I'm here trying to do my best, learn the plays and run good routes."

Head coach Joe Gibbs: "He has a lot of hard work to do and it just depends on how quick he picks it up. We have had a lot of meetings with him. [Wide receivers coach] Stan Hixon is doing a good job of staying after him, but it takes a little while."

Gibbs was asked if Caldwell's addition sends a message to other wide receivers on the team that they need to elevate their play.

"No, I don't send messages," he said. "I'm not a message guy. It was a good chance for us to add somebody. We think we have real good receivers here already."

Quarterback Jason Campbell figures that the addition of Caldwell will increase competition for playing time at wide receiver.

"There's always competition going on," he said. "I think one thing that it does is, it helps guys get motivated and it also improves the guys around you. You know that someone is always pushing you for your job. Your job is never secure in the NFL. You always have to continue to stay on top of your game at all times.

"Anytime you can add depth at a position like that--it really helps out a lot."

Caldwell, who played for former Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier at Florida from 1999-2002, began his NFL career with as a second-round draft choice with the San Diego Chargers.

In his NFL career, he has caught 137 passes for 1,710 yards and 11 touchdowns.

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