SI NFL Preview - Jason Campbell Cover

One of many experimental iterations ...

Om

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Already Feeling The Heat
by PETER KING

From coast to coast, NFL training camps are in full swing, with coaches scheming for the season and players battling for respect, redemption or a place on the roster. SI visits five hot spots where the pressure will be intense

For an hour after Washington's first training-camp practice of the season, Jason Campbell was the mayor of Redskins Park. Last Thursday in suburban Ashburn, Va., he signed autographs, gave optimistic interviews and flashed a prom-night smile for photos with corporate sponsors. When he saw a lone remaining teenage girl politely pleading for him to sign a shirt, Campbell walked back to her and obliged. "Part of the job," he said with a smile. ¶ There's a game after the game in the NFL—former quarterback Bernie Kosar used to call it the fifth quarter—in which the starting QB is supposed to send an upbeat signal to the press and the public. Watching Campbell work the crowd at Redskins Park, you'd think he'd majored in Fifth Quarter at Auburn.

Despite appearances, though, Campbell might be under the harshest spotlight of any NFL player as training camps open across the country. In the off-season the Skins pursued Jay Cutler and showed interest in Mark Sanchez, and as the fifth-year quarterback walked onto the practice field the name of yet another available quarterback popped up. At least two fans were wearing Falcons number 7 jerseys, and behind a fence near the practice field a DC WANTS VICK sign waved in the crowd.

"It's, well, tough sometimes," Campbell said on the sideline after practice. "I am fine now, but there were a couple of times in the off-season I felt like a piece of tissue they were flushing down the toilet."

While Michael Vick's pursuit of redemption and Brett Favre's retirement angst have dominated the headlines, other developing stories will shape the coming season—from Terrell Owens's arrival in Buffalo to Seattle's quest to rebuild its wideout corps and rediscover its playoff form. Thirty-two teams, each with numerous story lines in a league in which hope springs eternal in August.

Every day as they pass through the lobby of the team's training complex, Redskins players see the team's three Lombardi trophies and know they haven't come close to a fourth. Since the Skins won their last Super Bowl, 18 years ago, they are 29 games below .500 and have cycled through seven coaches and seemingly 700 quarterbacks. Owner Dan Snyder has seen his team win all of two wild-card games in 10 free-spending years running the show.

Even after Snyder broke the bank last February with a $100 million contract for free-agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the focus in D.C. is squarely on Campbell, 27, who's in his second full season as the starter and the last year of his five-year rookie deal. In 2008 he led Washington to a 6--2 start, but as defenses turned up the pressure on the injury-ravaged Skins in the second half of the season, Washington went 2--6, scoring a measly 100 points. The impatient Snyder went hard after Cutler and would have had him had the Broncos preferred Campbell to Bears quarterback Kyle Orton. Then shortly before the draft Snyder and Redskins vice president Vinny Cerrato wined and dined USC's Sanchez for three hours. Although they decided not to swing a megatrade to draft Sanchez, the message was clear: Washington was in the market for a new quarterback ...

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Sarge

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I hate to bring it up, but isn't there a jinx associated with this "honor"?
 

Lanky Livingston

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I hate to bring it up, but isn't there a jinx associated with this "honor"?
I believe the jinx only applies to the cover that comes out the week before the season starts. Jamal Lewis appeared on the cover of this issue in 2007, and was the 6th leading rusher in the NFL, playing for the BROWNS. So you know, there's that. :)
 

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Peter King said:
The images showed the rookie Flacco with at least three yards of space in all directions as he released; Campbell looked as if he was trying to throw in a phone booth.
The line of the piece, right there. Ozzy Newsome is one of the very best out there at restocking the L-line so as to make sure the cupboard is never bare. Joe Flacco is now the beneficiary of that attention.
 

Chris

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The real jinx is being on the Madden cover. Jason (and us fans) don't have to worry about that one.
 

Om

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Great looking cover........
Indeed. Fine new Tier 2 avatar addition as well, if I do say so myself. :cool4:

Have to admit to some surprise over the cover choice. I know King was high as a kite on JC last training camp, but to what extent that influences their cover choice I have no idea. Either way, nice to see the burgundy and gold represent on a national mag cover again ... been a long time since we were relevant to anyone other than ourselves.
 

The Burgundy Ghost

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The real jinx is being on the Madden cover. Jason (and us fans) don't have to worry about that one.
I'd be much more worried if Campbell was on the Madden cover.

Looking at the Campbell jersey, I wonder if the Skins have ever thought about a alt. jersey like this......although they'd probably look horrible if the whole team wore them.
 

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