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For Gibbs, It's Full Speed Ahead

Joe Gibbs doesn't want to talk about the past. He doesn't want to talk about Super Bowls, even though he is often drawn into memories of the Redskins' championship run of the 1980s and early 1990s.

With the 2004 season on the horizon, those memories have been put aside. All of Gibbs' energies are devoted to his new team.

"[The Super Bowls] were great for the franchise and it's neat to be a part of a franchise that has a history like this," he said. "But I think all of us here now are focused on the future, not the Super Bowls. I believe that our players want to achieve and build something great in modern times. And that's what we want to do as a coaching staff."

In a press conference Friday afternoon, Gibbs officially welcomed in the start of Redskins Training Camp Built by The Home Depot.

Standing before the Redskins' three Super Bowl trophies, he admitted that he's been somewhat embarrassed by all of the attention he's received since returning to the NFL last January.

It will be Gibbs' first Redskins training camp in 12 years since he retired from the game in 1993. He has opened up competition at most positions on the team, emphasizing that the best player will be the starter on Sept. 12, the Redskins' first regular-season game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"The more of those real battles [for starting jobs] that you have, the better your football team is going to be," Gibbs said. "Most players appreciate that they have to win a job. I don't care where you were drafted or how much money you make, that would be stupid for us as coaches to play somebody because of where we drafted him."

Gibbs is the head of what he calls a "first-year coaching staff" and he says one of the toughest challenges the coaches face-and one of the priorities of training camp-is to learn in-depth the skills of his players.

"One of the hardest things in coaching is to get a perception of what the talents are of your players so that you can start putting them in roles where they can really excel," Gibbs said. "That's extremely hard when you're trying to get accustomed to a new group."

Even so, Gibbs also admitted that the start of training camp will be emotional. From his grand return last January to the high expectations after an offseason of high-profile acquisitions,

"I think anybody going back into something where you have a lot of pride at stake could imagine the emotions I'm feeling," he said. "You're nervous about it. You personally want to do well&All the fans are counting on you. Certainly all of the coaches that we recruited here-their lives and careers are at stake.

"One of the things you worry about is everybody's expectations of what's going to happen. There are high expectations and you realize that those high expectations are good to get everybody excited, but it can be pretty hard to live up to. All of those emotions, it's hard to put into words, but that's what I feel."

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