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Hasselbeck Ready to Prove He Belongs

In the NFL, anything can happen--just ask Redskins quarterback Tim Hasselbeck.

His NFL journey since entering the league in 2001 has included brief stops in Buffalo, Baltimore, Carolina and Philadelphia twice. Last year, he went from watching NFL games on TV at home to starting the Redskins' last five games of the year.

Hasselbeck's statistics were respectable: 95-of-177 for 1,012 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Now, with Mark Brunell in the Redskins' fold and Patrick Ramsey back at full health, Hasselbeck is expected to compete for a backup spot on the roster.

"You never know what can happen--I might not play a down this year or I might play eight games," he said. "Sometimes it gets frustrating thinking that way, but for me it rings true because last year I was at home for the first half of the season and then five weeks later I'm starting for the rest of the year.

"Before, [opportunities] like that seemed really far-fetched, but with what's happened to players like Tom Brady [sixth-round draft choice turned Super Bowl MVP] and Marc Bulger [another sixth-rounder who is expected to start for the Rams], it gives you more hope."

Hasselbeck, a 6-1, 211-pounder out of Boston College, joined the Redskins in late October last year. The team had just released Rob Johnson and sought a young backup behind Ramsey.

Hasselbeck had caught the eye of Redskins scouts during his tenure in Philadelphia. The brother of Seattle starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and son of former New England Patriots tight end Don Hasselbeck, Tim saw action during Philadelphia's pre-season games in 2002-03 and was on the Eagles' active roster in 2002 as a backup when Donovan McNabb was out with an injury.

Last year, when Ramsey was sidelined for the season with a bone bruise in his right foot, Hasselbeck was promoted to starter. Like most young quarterbacks, he experienced some ups and downs.

In Week 15, Hasselbeck completed just 6-of-26 passes for 56 yards with four interceptions in a 27-0 shutout to the Dallas Cowboys. A week later at Chicago, he was 16-of-25 for 209 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-24 loss.

This offseason, Hasselbeck says he feels comfortable in transitioning to Joe Gibbs' offense. Since he has bounced around to so many teams in his short NFL career, learning a new playbook has become like second nature.

"Since I was always new on a team, I've always been trying to catch up in terms of learning the playbook," he said. "I've been able to adjust to it because it's what I've been used to. Whether that makes me play better, I don't know. But I'm used to feeling like this."

Even though Hasselbeck has five games of starting experience under his belt, he's not taking a roster spot for granted.

Why? In football, anything can happen.

"People have been patting me on the back saying I did a good job last year, that the Redskins will probably keep me on the roster this year," Hasselbeck said. "That's nice for people to say that and I appreciate it, but I realize that as soon as you think your situation is solid and secure, that's when you end up losing your job.

"I've been trying to maintain that approach--that I'm still trying to prove myself."

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