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Redskins Moving Forward With Campbell

Before Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams, quarterback Jason Campbell received an endorsement from Joe Gibbs that, under different circumstances, would have qualified as big news.

Asked if Campbell had shown enough to be the Redskins' starter in 2007, Gibbs replied: "Jason is our starter, period. We want to continue to build around him. But everybody has to earn it, and if you don't earn it, you don't get it.

"Our general feeling is that he is going to get better and better. That's our hope. We will continue to see how he progresses and how he continues to play."

Gibbs handed over the reins of the Redskins' offense to Campbell at midseason, and despite some struggles by the second-year quarterback, coaches are eager to see how he develops through a full offseason as the starter.

On Sunday against St. Louis, Campbell continued to show flashes of promise. For the most part he has been asked to manage games.

Campbell was 13-of-26 for 160 yards and one touchdown in the Redskins' 37-31 loss to the St. Louis Rams. He has not thrown an interception in two games.

But the offense was just 4-of-12 on third-down conversions and 1-of-6 in the second half and overtime. Part of that is due to play-calling, according to Gibbs. The Redskins had anticipated the Rams' defense would play more aggressive in pressuring Campbell on third downs, but instead they sat back in pass coverage.

On Monday, Gibbs said that he likes what he sees out of Campbell.

"Jason made some very good plays and there were four or five times where we didn't give him a lot to work with because [the Rams[ surprised us coverage-wise," Gibbs said. "I felt like he stood up real well in the pocket. He's showing that he's going to be athletic. He had no turnovers, so he made good decisions."

Gibbs hopes that Campbell can help solidify the Redskins' quarterback position. Including Campbell, the team has had nine different starting quarterbacks this decade.

"We've gone through a transition change at quarterback four times [since 2004], and I can honestly say it's a big deal because it's a huge responsibility trying to find the right guy who can play that position," he said.

He added: "It'd sure be nice to see Jason take it and play 10 years for us. You have somebody there so that you can put [the QB position] aside and not have to worry about it. I've always said you have to make sure your bases are covered at quarterback."

Ladell Betts has served as the primary offensive threat the last five games, allowing Campbell to ease into the role of starting quarterback.

The Redskins' offense has produced astonishing results in the ground game, averaging 173.4 yards per game the last five weeks. But the Redskins are just 2-3 in those games, so the Redskins know they will need Campbell to play more consistent in the passing game.

"We try to be as balanced as possible," Campbell said. "We don't want to be one-dimensional because defenses in this league will pick up on that and pick up on tendencies. We try to keep the defenses on their heels."

For the season, Campbell has completed 89-of-176 passes for 1,077 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions. His QB rating is 73.0 and he has been sacked six times in six outings.

While the Redskins have established an offensive identity with Betts, Campbell is still feeling his way through the NFL learning curve.

"Each week I am getting better at something different," he said. "This is a learning process for me. We need to continue to find our strengths and weaknesses. What each player does best is important to figure out."

Certainly, it would help Campbell to have associate head coach-offense Al Saunders back in 2007. Gibbs has said that Saunders is expected to return next season.

Campbell has worked with six different offensive coordinators the last six years, including four years at Auburn.

"It would mean a lot [to have Saunders return]," he said. "It'll be my first time in six years that I have had an opportunity to go with the same coach as the previous year. I won't have to learn a new offense. I can just work on technique and the things I need to do to get better."

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