ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -Jason Campbell made a statement Monday in what has been a preseason full of questions for the Washington Redskins offense.
Even that came with a bit of uncertainty.
``I'm going to play Thursday,'' Campbell said. ``I'm going to go out there and give it all I've got.''
Then Campbell went on to say that he still had some soreness in his bruised left knee and that his availability for the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars could hinge on how he feels after running bootlegs in practice on Tuesday.
To which coach Joe Gibbs added that Campbell has to be ``100 percent'' to play.
``One thing a quarterback can't do is have too much time away, because you lose your rhythm and you lose your edge,'' Campbell said. ``All the things we worked so hard on over the summer, you don't want to lose it right before we start the season.''
With less than two weeks to go before the regular season opener against Miami, the Redskins are scrambling to get ready.
Knee injuries to three offensive players, poor rushing performances in preseason and a chronic problem at left guard that prompted the team to trade for Pete Kendall have made Gibbs' job even more difficult.
``You don't like the unsettled feeling,'' Gibbs said. ``Particularly it's more on the offensive side. It's where the injuries have been, and obviously the late addition here with Pete. You don't like that, but it's just something we've got to work our way through. Jason, you don't like him missing anything, a young guy. So you're kind of dealt some cards, and you're going to have to play the hand.''
As it stands now, the Redskins' hand really does have more questions than answers.
- How will Campbell's injury affect the team?
In his first training camp as a starter, Campbell has played less than three quarters in preseason and missed Saturday's game against Baltimore. But he also started seven games last year and appears to have a firm grasp of the offense. Furthermore, playing him on Thursday presents a risk: The left side of the offensive line is still not at full strength.
- What about right tackle Chris Samuels and running back Clinton Portis?
It's been four weeks since Samuels sprained his knee in practice. He said Monday he won't play again this week, but he remains confident he will be ready for the season opener.
``I'll use this week to get my footwork down, start working my way back in and also work on my conditioning,'' Samuels said.
Portis is more of a mystery. He has barely practiced all year, having missed a good portion of the spring workouts and most of training camp because of tendinitis in his right knee. The injury is clearly more than a minor flare-up, and his status remains uncertain.
Gibbs said Portis will be ``upping his workload'' this week and that the team was maintaining a cautious approach to the injury.
``What we've done here is the smart thing and give him a long rest period to get that thing totally healed so it's not going to wind up being a nagging thing from week to week,'' Gibbs said.
- How quickly can Kendall mesh with the offensive line?
Acquired in a trade with the New York Jets, Kendall is a 12-year veteran who can learn the play book in a hurry, but he has precious little time to adjust to his new teammates. Because of Gibbs' extraordinarily light schedule, Kendall will likely have only one full practice in his first 10 days with the team.
``The biggest challenge is going to be 'How do I communicate with the guy to the left and to the right of me?''' Kendall said. ``When they did say something to me, do I understand immediately what they mean so that I can execute?''
- Will the starting defense ever force a turnover?
The defense has been intimidating - allowing only one touchdown over three games - but the starters have yet to force a turnover and have only one sack. Such game-changing plays were also absent a year ago in the 5-11 season.
``We've tried to put a real emphasis there,'' Gibbs said. ``And we'll just have to see as we keep playing if it's going to pay off.''
- Can the Redskins overcome all the uncertainties and be competitive against the Dolphins on Sept. 9?
That, of course, is the biggest question.
``Miami is right around the corner,'' Campbell said. ``The big picture will be here soon.''
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