Cornerback Carlos Rogers and quarterback Jason Campbell are used to practicing together, just not while wearing burgundy and gold. Rogers and Campbell took the field Friday for the first time as Redskins, headlining a group of 70 players that participated in the first day of the team's three-day rookie camp.
"We had real solid work on our first day," head coach Joe Gibbs said. "It was kind of rough. We are trying to throw a lot at them these three days and mentally challenge them."
On a chilly afternoon at Redskins Park, all eyes were on the team's two first-round draft choices from Auburn University. Rogers and Campbell faced each other regularly during practice at Auburn because the Tigers' first-team offense and defense normally practiced against each other. On Friday, they occasionally faced off in a few drills.
"It's kind of fun watching him," Rogers said of Campbell. "Once he gets into it and once I get into it, we'll be going at it."
"I didn't get a chance to get many shots at Carlos," Campbell quipped, "but his day is coming."
In one particular drill, Campbell completed a corner route to wideout Jerel Myers, who was being covered one-on-one by Rogers.
"I was thinking a little too much," Rogers said. "Once we got to seven-on-seven, I relaxed more. Once I got relaxed, it was back to football."
Assistant head coach/defense Gregg Williams kept a keen eye on Rogers, both encouraging him when he did well and pointing out his mistakes.
"I just know he's going to get after me more," Rogers said. "He expects a lot out of me, and I expect that. There are a lot of things I've got to work on coming into this level. Any coaching help I can get from either of the coaches, I'm going to take it."
Rogers and the other cornerbacks began practice working on special teams before going through cornerback drills.
"Everything they are teaching me is something I can learn from," Rogers said. "I'm going to take that into next practice and try to get better."
Campbell received more than his share of the quarterback reps because Zack Mills from Penn State, the only other quarterback in camp, pulled a hamstring early on. He looked sharp however, demonstrating a strong arm and good accuracy.
"You are looking to see how he handles it, and if he can get everyone lined up," Gibbs said. "I thought he had a good feel for that, and I think he handled the mental aspects of that. I was worried that we were overworking him because we were down to one quarterback. It is going to be a long process and we are just getting started."
Campbell said his arm was a little tight afterwards but added that he'll be fine for the remaining two practices. He has begun the process of learning his fifth offensive scheme in five years, and he is meeting the challenge head on.
"As a quarterback, you've got to be willing to learn," Campbell said. "That's the most important thing. You've got to know what's going on. That way, once you know everything, you can just play and be yourself. But you can't be yourself until you know the whole offense."
Most of Campbell's passes were accurate, tight spirals. He completed deep passes to wideouts Scott Morris from Jackson State and Steve Suter from Maryland, but he also fumbled a snap on one occasion.
"I'm just working hard right now to get better everyday," Campbell said. "Everything the coaches try to give us as an offense, we're doing our best as an offense to learn as much as we possibly can in rookie camp. When we come in with the veterans, everything is going to speed up and be at a faster pace."
Campbell said that Gibbs installed enough of the playbook "to get us on a roll." The plays were similar to those he ran at Auburn, he said, but the terminology is different.
"I want to walk out of here feeling that I got better," Campbell said. "Basically, the main thing is getting an understanding of Coach Gibbs' offense."
Both Rogers and Campbell said that they are using the rookie camp to improve and get a grasp of the playbook. As they start their professional careers, each took comfort in having a good friend and teammate close by.
"It feels real great to have Carlos around," Campbell said. "We have an opportunity to push each other. We can help each other out in certain situations and just continue to push each other to get better each day."