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Collins: Valuable Resource In New Offense

With an air of self-assuredness, Todd Collins dropped back to pass and looked downfield. There was little pressure--the defense was focused on coverage instead--so Collins directed a pass toward Santana Moss along the sideline.

Standing behind Collins, watching intently, was a pair of quarterbacks: Mark Brunell and Jason Campbell.

If the Redskins' offense is as high-powered as many expect it to be in the coming years, then it's likely that either Brunell or Campbell are running it. Meantime, it is Collins who will play a key role in the development of the offense,

The Redskins started Organized Team Activity practice sessions last week. The practices, held at Redskins Park, continue for three days each week through June 14. It's the first on-field look that most Redskins players have had of Saunders' offense.

Collins played under new associate head coach-offense Al Saunders in Kansas City the last five years. When Saunders joined head coach Joe Gibbs in Washington last January, one of his first recommendations was to bring in Collins, who was an unrestricted free agent.

"It's an exciting offense," Collins said. "Having played in it for five years and coming here now, I know how explosive it can be. You can see the excitement of the guys and what this offense is capable of doing."

It all starts with the quarterback, though. Gibbs said he felt comfortable with the level of talent and experience at the position.

Brunell is expected to be the starter, while Collins and Campbell will serve as backups. Casey Bramlet, a second-year player out of Wyoming, is also on the roster.

"We have Jason and we will play him a ton in preseason," Gibbs said. "We don't feel Mark will have to take a lot of work. Hopefully he is as sharp as he was last year when he started out. Then we have Todd who has been in this system and won't miss a beat. I think we are real good at quarterback right now."

Collins is an 11-year veteran who originally entered the NFL as a second-round draft choice (45th overall) of the Buffalo Bills in 1995. He spent three seasons with the Bills before joining the Chiefs in 1998. He has worked under Saunders in Kansas City since 2001.

Collins, who played his college ball at Michigan, has mostly been a backup throughout his NFL career. He has appeared in 40 games with 17 starts and completed 302-of-546 passes for 3,447 yards, 17 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

Collins regards himself as a valuable resource for Brunell and Campbell as they learn the offense.

"Since I've been in this offense for a while, I could come in and play today because there's no adjustment for me other than getting used to the receivers," Collins said. "I feel pretty comfortable in whatever role they want me to play. I'm going to prepare and be ready to do my job.

"My adjustment is just getting used to the guys on the team because I have the luxury of having Coach Saunders come over. Basically we're running the exact same offense that I played in Kansas City. So I'm kind of adjusting to the program here and getting used to the guys and the way they do things."

Saunders' offenses in Kansas City were consistently among the best in the league. The last two years, the Chiefs had the top-ranked offense in the NFL.

Last year, the unit averaged 387.0 yards per game. Running back Larry Johnson led the AFC in rushing with 1,750 yards and also had 20 touchdowns. Quarterback Trent Green was second in the NFL in passing yards with 4,014 and a 90.1 quarterback rating.

Offensive efficiency--the Chiefs established an NFL record in 2004 with 398 first downs--and point potential are some hallmarks of Saunders' offense.

What else makes it so successful?

Said Collins: "A lot of it is coaching. It's a sound scheme. We have a large volume of plays that we run, so it's hard for a defense to key in on us. But it also comes down to the players. From the offensive line to the receivers we have outside to the running backs in the backfield, it's going to be exciting to watch this offense come together because we have the capability to make some big plays. I think we have guys who can really fit in and make this offense go."

Collins said Brunell's biggest adjustment will be to learn the terminology of the new offense.

"Mark is an accomplished quarterback--he's run some of these plays before, but they were called different things," Collins said. "So his adjustment is just going to be the terminology. He knows how to play the position."

Asked his first impressions of Campbell, the Redskins' first-round draft pick in 2005, Collins said: "He's a big, strong kid. You can see that he has a lot of raw talent. It looks like he's capable of making all the throws. He's pretty impressive. With development, he should continue to get better through these OTAs and training camp and preseason games."

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