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Redskins settled and ready for Week 1, except at backup QB

ASHBURN, Va. -- Jason Campbell was in good humor, cracking jokes and talking friendly smack about a former college roommate.

Todd Collins and Mark Brunell were not as talkative. They were still waiting for coach Joe Gibbs to tell them who had won the No. 2 quarterback job, even though Collins appeared to be the obvious winner based on the first handful of snaps at Monday's workout.

Everyone else, except perhaps for injured linebacker Marcus Washington, was close to full-go and knew pretty much where they stood as the team prepared for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. After years of season-opening disappointments, the Redskins want to have a dominant Game 1 performance for a change - something that hasn't happened in 10 years.

"Everybody's optimistic," running back Ladell Betts said. "Defense played well throughout the preseason. The offense showed glimpses as well, so I think we're ready."

There seemed to be no concern about Campbell, physically or mentally. He has rebounded from a severely bruised left knee and is loose and relaxed, a good sign for a third-year player about to make his opening-day debut.

"It's a new start for everyone," Campbell said. "The one thing we learned from last season is that we don't want to go through another season like that."

Campbell said he was looking forward to touching base with Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown, a former Auburn teammate.

"Ronnie being an ex-roommate of mine, he'll try to give out all the secrets on me," Campbell said. "But that's all right. I've got something for him, too. He's lost about 20 pounds since college. He's laid off some of those cheeseburgers. I'm going to call him tonight and see what's on his menu."

While Campbell is No. 1 on the depth chart, Gibbs hasn't gotten around to choosing the No. 2. Collins took all of the second-team snaps during the portion of the practice reporters are allowed to watch, but the coach remained noncommittal.

"There's no rush there. We've got two veteran guys," Gibbs said. "I already know what I'm going to do, but I haven't had a chance to talk to them."

Brunell, however, seemed resigned to his fate.

"Every guy in the support role would like to be the starter, would like to be as close as possible to starting," Brunell said. "But whatever your role is, you go out there and you handle it like a professional. You work hard, and that's all you can do."

Washington, recovering from a dislocated elbow, practiced but remains the only starter whose status is in serious doubt for Sunday's game.

"I'm shooting for it," Washington said. "I tried to be smart about it today. It really felt good to run around in this heat and get a little bit of action."

Left tackle Chris Samuels has recovered from the sprained knee that cost him the preseason. He's having to develop a quick chemistry with new left guard Pete Kendall, but that's not his main concern.

"I'll probably be a little bit rusty on my technique here and there," Samuels said. "I think I'll get that back quicker than anything. I think the main thing that I'm concerned with is my conditioning. I'll have to step over my tongue a bit, but I'll fight through it."

The opening-weekend schedule has been relatively kind to the Redskins for several years, yet they haven't taken full advantage. Gibbs has been given a home game to start each season since he came out of retirement, but his team scored only two touchdowns over the first three openers.

Last year, the Redskins were upset 19-16 by the Minnesota Vikings, who were adjusting to a new coach and a new quarterback. The year before, the Redskins failed to score a touchdown in a 9-7 win over the Chicago Bears, who started a rookie quarterback.

To find a convincing victory that truly set a positive tone for the season, turn the calendar back to 1997, when coach Norv Turner's team beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10.

With that history lesson in mind, this Game 1 might mean a little more. The Dolphins, like the Vikings a year ago, have a new coach and a new starting quarterback.

"No one wants to start 0-1 - you're already behind," defensive end Phillip Daniels said. "We do want to start fast."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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